UN slams Israel for home demolitions

Published February 14th, 2023 - 08:09 GMT
Home demolitions
Head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Sven von Burgsdorff poses for pictures with children as he visits with a delegation the site of a Palestinian school which was demolished by Israeli authorities in the village of Esfay, in the Masafer Yatta area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on December 19, 2022. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

ALBAWABA - United Nations experts are lashing out at what they call Israel's systematic and deliberate demolition of homes, arbitrary displacement, and forced expulsion of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank.

The experts include Francesca Albanese, Balakrishnan Rajagopal and Paula Gaviria Betancur. They served as special rapporteurs on human rights in various capacities, including those relating right to adequate housing and internally displaced persons.

They issued a statement voicing alarm at developments in the West Bank.

They have been speaking out on the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories in view of demolition of Palestinian homes, such as the132 Palestinian structures across 38 communities in the West Bank, which were torn down last month.

Those included 34 residential and 15 donor-funded structures, the experts said as reported by Anadolu, pointing out this is a 135 percent increase, compared with the corresponding month in 2022.

The U.N. experts said Israel was erecting illegal settlements and that there was a  systematic demolition of Palestinian homes across the occupied Palestinian territories.

A case in point is Masafer Yatta in the southern district of Hebron, where over 1,100 Palestinian residents continue to be at imminent risk of forced eviction, arbitrary displacement, and demolition of their homes, livelihood, water, and sanitation structures.

The Israeli army, for instance, demolished a donor-funded school in Isfey al Fauqa near the southern West Bank village. Four other schools are set for Israeli demolition orders. 

The experts, speaking on Monday,  said such  actions are "illegal under international law" and amount to a war crime. They voiced alarm at the Israeli government's endorsement and growing practice of punitive evictions and demolitions and other punitive measures applied to alleged perpetrators of "terrorist" attacks and their family members.

They said the Israeli actions were not confined to house demolition and land confiscation. Others actions include revoking identity documents, citizenship and residency rights, and social security benefits for Palestinians.

On Jan. 29, Israeli authorities announced measures to immediately seal off family homes of those suspected of carrying out attacks on Jan. 27-28 in the disputed East Jerusalem.

These attacks included one in the Neve Yacoub settlement  on Jan. 27, when at least seven Israelis were killed.

Two families of the alleged attackers were forcibly evicted from their homes, and more than 40 people, including family members, were reportedly arrested for the attacks.

"The sealing of family homes of suspected offenders and the subsequent demolition of their homes is in fundamental disrespect of international human rights norms and the rule of law," the experts explained.

"We regret that impunity prevails, in particular for human rights violations and potential war crimes committed by the occupying power," they said.

"It is high time for international adjudication bodies to determine the nature of the Israeli occupation and seek justice and accountability for all crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian Territory," they added.

The experts explained that they repeatedly raised concerns with the Israeli government on these issues, but have not received a response. 

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