While the news are full of the plans to annex the West bank and legalize construction in settlements – Israel is busy creating facts on the ground, as usual. Annexation or not, Israel has been demolishing homes in the West Bank and trying to drive Palestinians out of their homes for decades. These attempts to take over the coveted land are carried out in utter indifference to the severe damage to Palestinians’ property, livelihood, water and power supply infrastructure they set up themselves, and their ability to plan their lives.
As the whole world battles an unprecedented and paralyzing healthcare crisis, Israel’s military is devoting time and resources to harassing the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank, that Israel has attempted to drive out of the area for decades. Shutting down a first-aid community initiative during a health crisis is an especially cruel example of the regular abuse inflicted on these communities, and it goes against basic human and humanitarian principles during an emergency. Unlike Israel’s policies, this pandemic does not discriminate based on nationality, ethnicity or religion. It is high time the government and military acknowledged that now, of all times, Israel is responsible for the health and wellbeing of the five million Palestinians who live under its control in the Occupied Territories.
On the morning of Monday, 22 July 2019, the Israeli authorities began demolishing buildings in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Humos, the eastern extension of Zur Baher in East Jerusalem. The move came after Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the residents’ appeal, and ruled there was no legal barrier to prevent the demolitions. Israel is planning to demolish a total of 13 buildings, including at least 44 housing units, which are in various stages of construction. Two families were already living in the buildings demolished today. Their 17 members, including 11 minors, are now homeless. Some of the structures slated for demolition were built in Area A, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for planning and building, and had issued the required permits.
The report shows how the justices of Israel’s Supreme Court have validated the state’s planning apparatus in the West Bank, enabling it to continue implementing illegal policies. Time and time again, the justices have ignored the fact that the planning apparatus imposes an almost blanket prohibition on Palestinian construction with the object of enabling Israel to take over as much Palestinian land as possible. The report, Fake Justice: The Responsibility Israel’s High Court Justices Bear for the Demolition of Palestinian Homes and the Dispossession of Palestinians, is based on a careful examination of hundreds of High Court cases, judgments and decisions regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank. In none of these cases did the justices accept the arguments of the Palestinian petitioners.
In their ruling, Justices Amit, Meltzer, and Baron described an imaginary world with an egalitarian planning system that takes into account the needs of the Palestinians, as if there had never been an occupation. The reality is diametrically opposed to this fantasy: Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look. The planning systems are intended solely for the benefit of the settlers.This ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier’s courts. If the demolition of the community of Khan al-Ahmar goes ahead, the Supreme Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime.
On 17 June, a new military order removing any option for Palestinians to challenge demolition orders against their homes will go into effect. This is a new phase in Israel’s planning and building policy in the West Bank, which is aimed at denying Palestinian development and taking over land for Israeli needs. Removing the façade of judicial review over demolitions indicates Israel’s plan to accelerate dispossession and a conviction that it will not be called to task over this either internationally or locally.
At about 10:00 o’clock on the morning of Wednesday, 7 February 2018, Jerusalem Municipality inspectors arrived at the neighborhood of Wadi Yasul in Silwan with a bulldozer and a Border Police escort. They demolished the home of a Palestinian family of six, including four minors.
For years, Israel has been leading a policy aimed against Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, with the intention of making the residents leave their homes and thus transfer the communities within the area. The policy is implemented tactically, so as to avoid blatant images of soldiers forcing Palestinians onto trucks. Instead, Israel invests efforts in making the lives of these residents unbearable, in order to get them to leave their homes as though of their own free will. The policy is not applied uniformly to all the communities, and ranges from harassment and preventing development to an explicit intention to expel entire communities. In any case, Israel’s goal is to minimize Palestinian presence in order to use the territory for its own uses, including expanding settlements. Following is a review of the situation of several communities that Israel explicitly declared its intention to expel.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.