UN: In 2014, Israel demolished 1,177 Palestinians’ homes in the West Bank

Israel/Palestine
on 17 Comments

Israel destroyed 590 Palestinian buildings in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2014, displacing 1,177 people, according to a new study by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This constitutes the highest level of displacement in the West Bank since the UN began monitoring the issue in 2008.

Amira Hass summarizes the findings of the OCHA report in Haaretz. She indicates that, in 2014, the Civil Administration of the Israel Defense Forces destroyed

  • 493 buildings in the West Bank;
  • the homes of 969 Palestinians in the West Bank;
  • 97 buildings in East Jerusalem;
  • the homes of 208 Palestinians in East Jerusalem; and
  • an average of 9 Palestinian buildings per week.

In three days, from 20-22 January, 77 Palestinians, over half of whom were children, were made homeless by these demolitions. In just the week of 19-26 January, Israel destroyed 41 Palestinian buildings and delivered 45 construction stop orders and two demolition orders. All of these structures were owned by Bedouins and other pastoral communities. Some of the destroyed buildings had been donated by European humanitarian organizations, and Israel issued an order to stop construction on a park funded by foreign donor countries.

Israel’s extrajudicial demolitions continue into 2015. In January alone, Israel destroyed 77 buildings belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank, leaving 110 people, roughly half of whom were children, homeless in the cold of the winter.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley argues the demolitions violate international law. “Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension,” he said. “They must stop immediately.”

OCHA writes, in an official statement,

The planning policies applied by Israel in Area C and East Jerusalem discriminate against Palestinians, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain building permits. As a result, many Palestinians build without permits to meet their housing needs and risk having their structures demolished. Palestinians must have the opportunity to participate in a fair and equitable planning system that ensures their needs are met.

Hass also draws attention to the fact that “Israel does not allow Palestinians additional construction relative to the natural population growth, and does not allow connecting hundreds of communities with some 300,000 Palestinian residents to infrastructure.” This leaves Palestinians with three options, she says:

(a) living in crowded housing and poor conditions,
(b) moving to Areas A and B of the West Bank, which is difficult to do and expensive, or
(c) building without permits.

Given their lack of opportunities and resources, most Palestinians have no other choice but to repeatedly rebuild their homes without permits, Hass explains.

Area C

(Map: UN OCHA)

(Map: UN OCHA)

The 493 West Bank buildings destroyed were located in Area C, an administrative division, outlined in the 1995 Oslo II Accord, which comprises close to three-quarters of the West Bank. Area C remains under control of the Israeli military, after Israel illegally occupied it in the 1967 war. The October 1998 Wye River Memorandum required that Israel withdraw from 13% of Area C, but, after only pulling its troops from 2% of the land, Israel reoccupied all of it in its 2002 Operation “Defensive Shield.”

Today, Palestinians do not have control over 99% of Area C—61% of the entire West Bank. This is the region in which the West Bank’s most important and lucrative natural resources are concentrated. In a 2013 report, the World Bank said that without “the ability to conduct purposeful economic activity in Area C, the economic space of the West Bank will remain crowded and stunted, inhabited by people whose daily interactions with the state of Israel are characterised by inconvenience, expense and frustration.”

Almost 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C, under complete control of the Israeli military. In an additional 2014 report in Haaretz, Hass notes that

The Palestinian population in Area C is considered to be especially vulnerable and in need of international assistance because of limited access to educational and health-care institutions, harassment by settlers, proximity to firing zones and insufficient connection to water and electricity infrastructure.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 Israeli settlers also illegally live in Area C. More are flooding in, as the region is increasingly colonized. In May 2014, ultra-nationalist Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel said the possibly of a Palestinian state was in its “dying throes” and declared that the settler population would be 550,000 or 600,000 by 2019.

100,000 Homes Destroyed in Gaza

Palestinians in the West Bank were not the only ones Israel made homeless in 2014. In its 51-day summer attack on Gaza, codenamed Operation “Protective Edge,” Israel destroyed or damaged 100,000 homes, affecting more than 600,000 people, according to UN estimates.

Moreover,

  • 26 schools were destroyed;
  • 232 schools were damaged;
  • 73 mosques were destroyed;
  • 205 mosques were damaged;
  • 13 public hospitals were destroyed or damaged;
  • 17 private and non-governmental hospitals were destroyed or damaged;
  • 23 ministry health centers were destroyed or damaged;
  • 4 private and non-governmental health centers were destroyed or damaged;
  • 50% of farmland was greatly damaged;
  • 419 businesses and workshops were damaged; and
  • Gaza’s only power plant was destroyed.

In all, 100,000 Gazans were made homeless in the aftermath of the attack. The UN estimates it will take $7.8 billion and more than 20 years to rebuild Gaza. Although $5.4 billion in aid was pledged in an international conference in Egypt in October 2014, “virtually none” of this has reached Gaza, according to UNRWA. Thousands of Palestinians have been left homeless during a frigid winter. Several people, including infants, have died from the cold.

UNRWA Director in Gaza Robert Turner commented:

It is easy to look at these numbers and lose sight of the fact that we are talking about thousands of families who continue to suffer through this cold winter with inadequate shelter. People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble; children have died of hypothermia. US$ 5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable.

17 Responses

  1. just
    February 2, 2015, 12:28 pm

    “UNRWA Director in Gaza Robert Turner commented:

    It is easy to look at these numbers and lose sight of the fact that we are talking about thousands of families who continue to suffer through this cold winter with inadequate shelter. People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble; children have died of hypothermia. US$ 5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable.”

    Horrible, terrible, awful, inhuman, despicable.

    Ben~ thank you for reminding me. It’s soul- crushing.

  2. chocopie
    February 2, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I see Hyundai equipment. It’s a Korean company and considering how Korea suffered under Japanese occupation any Korean company should be ashamed to be helping Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

    • Kay24
      February 3, 2015, 4:29 am

      In the corporate world it is all about making money, and to hell with compassion and doing the right thing for the suffering masses. What happened to Caterpillar? They must be short of bulldozers.

  3. oldgeezer
    February 2, 2015, 12:39 pm

    The steady drip drip of israeli ethnic cleansing in action. There isnt a war crime of violation of ihl that they havent commited.

    The colle tive mindset in israel supports and lauds these continuous crimes. There id nobdepth to which they wont drag the state and peoples while pretending that they have morality on their side. Such is the mindset of racial supremacy

  4. eljay
    February 2, 2015, 1:02 pm

    UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley argues the demolitions violate international law.

    The demolitions support Jewish supremacism in a supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel. To Zio-supremacists, this combination of goal + methods equals “morality”.

  5. seafoid
    February 2, 2015, 2:47 pm

    Imagine if Jews had a holiday when they reflected on the experience of exile in the desert living in fragile shelters, as if they had no permanent homes.

    Oh, they do

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Nobody does hypocrisy like Zionism

    • DoubleStandard
      February 2, 2015, 3:16 pm

      The frequent jabs at the Jewish religion are good — at least they’re transparent.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 2, 2015, 5:16 pm

        what jab at the religion? there’s no critique of the holiday or the religion whatsoever. the jab is clearly directed towards those who worship it while hypocritically condoning, supporting and carrying out the actions you can read about above. as seafoid says: “Nobody does hypocrisy like Zionism”

      • eljay
        February 2, 2015, 5:18 pm

        >> DoubleStandardeee: The frequent jabs at the Jewish religion are good — at least they’re transparent.

        So…either you can’t read, you can’t comprehend or you can’t resist purposely distorting statements. (y.f. appears to suffer from the same affliction.)

  6. DoubleStandard
    February 2, 2015, 3:18 pm

    There is a factual error here that should be corrected.

    “Area C remains under control of the Israeli military, after Israel illegally occupied it in the 1967 war.”

    The area was not illegally occupied. Occupation is by definition a legal condition. The way Israel conducts the occupation may be illegal (e.g. settlement construction), but there is nothing illegal about the idea of occupation.

    • Zofia
      February 2, 2015, 6:53 pm

      Orna Ben-Naftali, Aeyal M. Gross & Keren Michaeli “Illegal Occupation: Framing the Occupied Palestinian Terrority”
      We argue that the legality of the phenomenon of occupation, as it relates to the function of managing the situation, is to be measured in relation to three fundamental legal principles:
      (a) Sovereignty and title in an occupied territory are not vested in the occupying power. The roots of this principle emanate from the principle of the inalienability of sovereignty through actual or threatened use of force. Under contemporary international law, and in view of the principle of self-determination, sovereignty is vested in the population under occupation.
      (b) The occupying power is entrusted with the management of public order and civil life in the territory under control. In view of the principle of
      self-determination, the people under occupation are the beneficiaries of this trst. The dispossession and subjugation of these people violate this trust.
      (c) Occupation is temporary. It may be neither permanent nor indefinite
      These principles, as we will show, interrelate: the substantive constraints on the managerial discretion of the occupant elucidated in principles “(a)” and “(b)” generate the conclusion in “(c)” that occupation must necessarily be temporary. Violating the temporal constraints expressed in principle “(c)” cannot but violate principles “(a)” and “(b),” thereby corrupting the normative regime of occupation in the sense that an occupation that cannot be regarded as temporary defies both the principle of trust and of self-determination. The violation of any one of these principles, therefore, unlike the violation of a specific norm that reflects them,renders an occupation illegal per se.
      This is the nature of the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Section II.A: Intrinsic Dimensions of the Israeli Occupation of the OPT, substantiates this argument.
      We further argue that the legality of occupation, in its function to create an orderly space that is nevertheless distinct from the normal political order of sovereign equality between states, is to be measured by its exceptionality: once the boundaries between the normal order (i.e., sovereign equality between states) and the exception (i.e., occupation) are blurred, an occupation becomes illegal.
      The nexus between the two functions is clear: an occupation that is illegal from the perspective of managing an otherwise chaotic situation is also illegal in that it obfuscates the distinction between the rule and its exception. Yet, the distinction between these two forms of illegality is important; the former is grounded in the intrinsic principles of the law of occupation, while the latter is extrinsic to this law and delineates its limits. The Israeli occupation of the OPT is illegal both intrinsically and extrinsically. Section II.B: Extrinsic Dimensions of the Israeli Occupation of the OPT, substantiates this argument.

      oh you write: “Occupation is by definition a legal condition”. ICJ has determined the illegality of South Africa’s occupation of South West Africa (Namibia). OCCUPATION CAN BE ILLEGAL. That is also the reason why there were discussions about the legality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq…..

      The work of Orna Ben-Naftali you can read here:
      link to duncankennedy.net

  7. Bornajoo
    February 2, 2015, 5:17 pm

    Shocking reading to most human beings on the planet, except zionists of course who can somehow justify any of their despicable crimes and then sleep like babies.

    Thanks Ben

    • Kay24
      February 3, 2015, 4:40 am

      How about this despicable crime? Zionists have an evil streak in them, and it is obvious that acting vicious is second nature to them. Perhaps an example of the abused becoming the abuser.

      “http://www.juancole.com/2015/02/destroys-feeding-palestinian.html

  8. JWalters
    February 2, 2015, 8:10 pm

    Along with destroying the homes of Palestinians, the “Zionist project” is destroying the free press and democracy in America. Those are essential parts of their strategy to get away with all their injustices and war-mongering.

  9. traintosiberia
    February 3, 2015, 12:16 am

    I would like to know what befalls the fate of these Palestinian after the houses were demolished. Where do they go? What happens to the elderly and the young ? What happens to their sources of survival ?
    Are they asked to work as servants? Are they asked to build the new home for the settlers? Do they end up watering the garden ? Are they asked to ” trek” over the other side of the border to Jordan,Syria,or to other areas in WBank?
    What happens to the school up ported by these kids who now homeless and on the street?

  10. Kay24
    February 3, 2015, 4:31 am

    Over 2000 Palestinians lost their lives recently, and it seems the criminals responsible, have extracted all they can, from those they wield power over. My tax money goes to aid and arm them.

    The world simply watches.

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    February 3, 2015, 9:19 am

    israel must be feeling really proud, eh?

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