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.
On 4 Feb. 2018, at about 5:00 AM, Civil Administration officials and security forces arrived in the Abu a-Nawar community and demolished two buildings at the community’s school. The classrooms were used by some 25 children in the 3rd and 4th grades. The buildings were constructed with funding from the European Union and the Palestinian Authority at the end of September 2017. On 7 Oct. 2017 Civil Administration officials arrived in the community, accompanied by security forces, and confiscated the doors of these two classroom. A demolition order was placed in one of these buildings on 13 Dec. 2017, and the legal proceeding in their case is still pending. The demolition of educational buildings is one of the means Israel uses in its attempt to expel Palestinian communities from their homes, so that it can concentrate the residents in enclaves and use the territory for its own needs.
On Monday morning, 5 Feb. 2018, Civil Administration personnel and a Border Police force dismantled and confiscated a water pipeline that had served to irrigate the watermelon patch in Khirbet a-Sakut in the northern Jordan Valley. At around 4:00 P.M. that day, the troops went to the community of Khirbet Um al-Jamal and confiscated four tents that served as the homes of nine people, including six minors. The confiscated tents were funded by a humanitarian aid organization after the Civil Administration demolished tents in the community in 2014.
Since 9 Nov. 2017, the military has restricted movement in four communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills, which are home to some 600 people. The roads connecting the communities and leading to the main road have been blocked off, forcing residents to walk a fair distance to the main road. These communities have been suffering incessant harassment for decades: Israel will not allow them to connect to infrastructure and repeatedly demolishes their homes, in an attempt to drive them out of the area.
Over the past month, the state has informed three Palestinian communities that it intends to expel them from their homes and land. The notification was made by leaving orders on the roadside. Whatever the proceedings used by the state in its attempt to expel Palestinian residents from their homes, the crime is the same: the forcible transfer of a protected population, which amounts to a war crime. This is the case whether the violence used is direct or indirect, physical or administrative. Whether the expulsion is undertaken by force or by creating an intolerable reality that forces the residents to leave their homes and land – the essence is the same.
This morning, 19 October 2017, at 10:30 AM, Civil Administration officials together with a military detail, arrived at the community of Khirbet al-Halawah, in the Masafer Yatta region in the south Hebron Hills. The forces demolished the homes of two families, leaving 18 people, including eight minors, homeless. The demolition was captured on video by B’Tselem field-researcher Nasser Nawaj'ah. Residents in the area have been victims of repeated harassment by the Israeli authorities, who declared a large part of the area as a firing zone in the late 70s, and have been working to expel residents ever since.
This morning, at around 7:00 AM, Civil Administration officials, together with security forces and four bulldozers arrived at the Jabal al-Baba community near ‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. The forces destroyed three pre-fab homes that housed four families, leaving 27 people, including 18 children and youths, homeless. The forces also demolished two bathroom stalls donated by a humanitarian aid organization. The most recent abuse the community was subjected to by the authorities was on 11 September 2017 when forces confiscated equipment used to repair the community’s access road.
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.