Al-Haq views with grave concern the sharp rise in the number of Palestinian structures demolished by the Israeli occupying authorities over the past two months. On a monthly average, the Israeli occupying authorities demolished 31 Palestinian structures during the first half of 2020. By contrast, in July and August 2020, 57 structures were demolished on a monthly average. This is twice as high as the average of previous months.
Compared to 186 in the first half of 2020, the Israeli occupying authorities demolished a total of 113 Palestinian structures in July and August 2020 alone. Increasing at an accelerating pace, demolitions are taking place within the broader framework of the occupying Power’s clear pursuit of annexation. This attitude has been encouraged over the past months and years by the United States policies and absence of accountability by the international community. In comparison to 22 in 2018, approximately 30 Palestinian structures were demolished on a monthly average in 2019.
Of particular note, the majority of demolished Palestinian structures (44 over the past two months) were located in the occupied governorate of Jerusalem. While 16 were in the Jerusalem suburbs, 28 Palestinian structures were located within the Israeli-declared municipal boundary of Jerusalem.
Demolition involves destruction of property without justified military necessity. It constitutes a flagrant violation of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a war crime under Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statute. The latter includes attacks on the homes of unarmed civilians within the definition of war crimes. Home demolitions lead to the forced displacement of population from their areas of residence, in apparent contravention to Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 7(1)(d) of the Rome Statute. It also stands in stark contrast to Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which ensures the right of housing to every family.
Al-Haq condemns all forms of arbitrary demolition of Palestinian structures. As part and parcel of broader Israeli policies, demolitions are designed to displace the largest possible number of Palestinians, confiscate as much Palestinian land as possible, and promote settlement activity throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. Recent intensification of Israel’s policies is nothing but a reflection of international community’s failure to punish the occupying Power for practices that run counter to International Law and an extensive body of international conventions and resolutions. Israeli policies are further aided by impunity and inability to hold Israeli officials to account. Palestinian structures are being demolished in the context of unlawful attempts to annex large swathes of the West Bank land to the territory of the occupying Power. It requires that the International Criminal Court proceed to open an investigation into this case.