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“Some 24,145 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967″

Posted by musliminsuffer on April 17, 2009

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

=== News Update ===

“Some 24,145 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967″

Marian Houk

April 16, 2009

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICHAD) “estimates that some 24,145 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967, based on information gleaned from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Civil Administration, OCHA and other UN sources, Palestinian & Israeli human rights groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, our field work and other sources. Last updated on 7 April 2009″. The ICAHD report can be read in full here.

ICAHD says, in that report, that punitive demolitions are when “houses [are] demolished as punishment for the actions of people associated with the houses. The actions in questions have been everything from political organizing to attacks on Israeli civilians. This policy was suspended by the IDF in February, 2005 after it reached the conclusion that rather than deterring attacks, punitive demolitions only enflame the people and lead to more attacks. The practice was resumed on 19 January 2009″.

According to ICHAD, “Although this is thought of by most people as the main reason why houses are demolished, in fact punitive demolitions account for only 8.5% of all defined demolitions” — though this figure may rise as ICAHD’s research progresses.

And, ICAHD says, “[punitive] house demolitions are clearly a case of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law. ICAHD explains that “Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that ‘No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited’. Punitive demolitions, by definition, violate this statute”.

Purely punitive demolitions, done as retaliation or punishment (in cases where the housing permits are valid), are now formally justified by the newly-reinstated doctrine of “deterrence.”

As we reported in an earlier post, here, Orna Kohn, senior attorney at the Haifa-based Adalah organization, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said in an interview last year that house confiscation or demolition “is not supposed to be used as a punishment, but only as a preventive measure,” according to Article 119 of the 1945 British Mandatory regulations that are still being used by Israeli authorities. At the time, Kohn thought, “it would be difficult for the military to say now it is destroying a house as a preventive measure after their own experts said it does not prevent anything.”

However, over the past year, the political climate in Israel has changed markedly.

Recently, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reversed the panel’s conclusions, and decided that house demolitions could, indeed, “deter” terror attacks. On that basis, Israel’s high court allowed the punitive demolition in Sur Bahir to go ahead on the morning of 7 April, as a deterrent measure, as we previously discussed here.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Barak spoke about it that evening as a punishment [emphasis added], prior to a meeting with Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair, saying: “Today, the home of the terrorist from Sur Bahir, who was involved in the first bulldozer attack, was demolished … The move is an important punitive measure and we must see such steps taken in the future in a much shorter time than in this case.” These words from Barak were reported here.

Punitive demolition is very different from house demolition for “administrative” or “judicial” reasons based on bureaucratic irregularities such as lack of a permit, or exceeding the terms and conditions of an issued permit though the net effect is also punitive. There was, for example, a house demolition in the Burj al-Laqlaq quarter, overlooking the Dome of the Rock, in the Old City of East Jerusalem on 6 April, for lack of a building permit — though the family had applied twice to try to get a permit.

In a miserable irony, the Old City demolition was carried out so precipitously that the family did not have time to destroy their building themselves — a contractor had already been hired for this purpose, in order to save money, because it would cost less than the fees that Israeli authorities will bill for their demolitions. Ir Amim, a Jerusalem-based organization that works “for an equitable and stable Jerusalem with an agreed political future”, has written in its “Layman’s Guide to Home Demolitions”, that “the authorities approach the violator and say: ‘Demolish your own home or we will do it for you, which will be much more damaging and much more expensive’. Of the 85 demolitions carried out by the Jerusalem Municipality in 2008, 27 were ‘voluntary’.”

Also on 6 April, according to ICAHD, an Israeli newspaper reported that the Jerusalem municipality has asked the Municipal Tender Committee to approve the hiring of a company specializing in demolishing buildings by means of controlled explosions, where it is difficult to do so by bulldozers, “because of technical limitations or a lack of time”.

ICAHD says in its report cited above that “Administrative demolitions, where houses are demolished for lack of a building permit, “happens in Area C and in East Jerusalem, under exclusive Israeli authority, though prior to the existence of Areas A, B & C it occurred in other areas as well. It is important to point out that in almost all cases, Palestinians have no
choice but to build ‘illegally’ as permits are almost impossible to obtain. It is also the case that in Area B, if a house is in close proximity to a military base or a road used by the military or settlers, it may also face administrative demolition. Israeli officials explain this type of demolition by stating that Palestinians are violating the zoning and planning laws and that the demolitions are merely law enforcement. This type of demolition accounts for approximately 26% of defined demolitions. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention declares that the destruction of property ‘is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations’. With these demolitions there is no pretense of military action, and are as such clear violations of international law”.

During her recent visit to the region, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was widely quoted as saying that demolition and eviction orders were “unhelpful.” But she was speaking about pending demolition and eviction orders issued against hundreds of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem — 88 in the Silwan neighborhood alone, just outside the walls of the Old City in East Jerusalem, to make way for what one Israeli lawyer who defends Palestinian rights called a “Jewish theme park.”

In the year 2000, Ir-Amim reported, there were only nine house demolitions in East Jerusalem — after “then-Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek announced that he would refrain from most demolitions in East Jerusalem, saying in effect that it was not right to punish people for building illegally when they were not permitted to build legally.” However, Ir-Amim says, “there are in excess of 1500 outstanding judicial demolition orders that have been issued but not yet executed … these orders never expire, and tens of thousands of residents in East Jerusalem live in perpetual fear that they may awake to the sound of bulldozers on any given morning. Consequently … every demolition understandably evokes widespread fear throughout East Jerusalem”.

Jerusalem’s new mayor, Nir Barakat, has vowed to carry out home demolition orders vigorously, under the guise of implementing the “rule of law”.

According to B’Tselem, some 688 Palestinian houses were demolished in East Jerusalem alone between 1999 and 2008, the majority by the Jerusalem municipality, the rest by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. At least another 207 Palestinian homes were destroyed in East Jerusalem between 1988 and 1998 — and three years of data are missing for that decade.

Thousands of Palestinian homes have also been demolished in Gaza (and tens of thousands damaged) — most for reasons of “military necessity” — in various operations before and after Israel’s unilateral “disengagement from Gaza — including 4,000 destroyed during the recent Israeli invasion during Operation Cast Lead.

The Jerusalem Post recently reported that the Israeli army was very pleased with the performance of unmanned D-9 bulldozers that were used in the Gaza Strip during the closing days of the Gaza invasion. D-9s are huge machines built by the Caterpillar corporation and then armored by Israeli Military Industries. It was reported in 2003 that work was beginning on the development of a version that can be operated unmanned by remote control — but their use has never previously been confirmed and an Israeli army spokesperson stated to this reporter that “its general policy is not to discuss the type of weapons we used.”

ICAHD writes, in the report cited above, that “Land-clearing operations/Military demolitions, involving houses demolished by the IDF in the course of military operations for the purposes of clearing off a piece of land (for whatever reason), [to] achieve a military goal or to kill wanted persons as part of Israel’s policy of extrajudicial executions, account for about 65.5% of defined demolitions. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention applies, and the Israeli Defence Force itself found [n.b. I think this refers to the IDF legal adviser] , referring to Operation Cast Lead, the massive destruction of homes ‘is very difficult to justify from a legal perspective, particularly if such justifications are called for in legal proceedings with international organizations’.”

ICAHD says it is also collecting information and investigating the status of many demolitions carried out between 1967-1982 which were not previously analyzed or classified: “Preliminary results indicate these will include demolitions from all categories but with the majority being land-clearing operations/military, and punitive”.

:: Article nr. 53477 sent on 16-apr-2009 23:23 ECT



-muslim voice-

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