Demolition of houses near the Separation Barrier, Far'un Village, Tulkarm District
On 31 January 2008, the Civil Administration delivered to two homeowners in Far'un, a village south of Tulkarm, notice that orders had been issued to demolish their houses, which lie close to the Separation Barrier. In 2007, the Civil Administration demolished seven houses in the village that were situated near the route of the barrier. The authorities claimed that the houses were constructed without a building permit.
One of the two houses belongs to Husam Salim Hassan 'Asi. The house was built in 1998, four years before the barrier was built near the village, and lies 150 meters east of the barrier. 'Asi and his family have lived in the house since 1999. The house has two floors: on the first floor, 'Asi and his elderly mother live, and his brother Bassem lives on the second floor with his wife and their two children. In April 2004, during construction work on the barrier and five years after the house was built and the family moved in, the Civil Administration issued a stop-work order on the house.
Video on the topic. Filming: Oriol Poveda Guillén, editing: Baha 'Alian and Oriol Poveda Guillén. Photo: The 'Asi family's house, taken by 'Abd al-Karim Sa'adi, B'Tselem, 31 January '08
The other house that is to be demolished belongs to 'Amar Salman Ahmad Hazazeh. It lies about 30 meters from the barrier. Hazazeh, his wife, their three children, and his elderly father have lived on the first floor of the house since 1999. Construction on the house was not completed. In this case, too, a stop-work order was issued in April 2004 due to the building of the Separation Barrier. An aerial photo that the Far'un Village Council has held since 2001, before construction on the Separation Barrier began, clearly shows the two houses already standing.
Israeli policy restricting building in Area C
The widespread phenomenon of Palestinians building without a permit in the West Bank results from Israel's longstanding policy not to issue building permits except in extraordinary cases. This policy is based on a tendentious reliance on outdated outline plans from the British Mandate period, in which most of the West Bank was classified as agricultural land. These plans ignore population growth in recent decades and fail to meet current Palestinian needs. Israel's policy contradicts its obligation as the occupying power to “. . . ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety” (article 43, Hague Regulations of 1907). Following the Oslo Agreements, this restrictive policy remained in force in Area C, which is under complete Israeli control and constitutes about 60 percent of the land area of the West Bank. Far'un Village lies in Area C.
The Israeli policy has forced many Palestinians to build without a permit so they can meet their natural-population-growth needs and gain a livelihood. Simultaneously, thousands of housing units and structures have been built in Israeli settlements and outposts, some of them without permit, which Israeli planning authorities granted retroactively. The authorities grant this approval even though the settlements - and all construction in them - flagrantly breach international law.
Map of the Separation Barrier in Tulkarm area. The village of Far'un is marked in yellow.
The Separation Barrier's route aggravates the infringement of human rights
In the past three years, the Israeli authorities have demolished 166 structures that were near the route of the Barrier, according to the figures of the Civil Administration. Based on these figures, an additional 754 structures await demolition. The large-scale demolition of houses in Far'un (seven of the total of 55) is another layer of Israel's abuse of Palestinians who live in areas close to which the barrier was built. Some 500 dunams of farmland of the village, including the 'Asi family's farmland, are situated on the other side of the barrier, and some residents, Husam 'Asi among them, did not receive a permit to enter the area to work their land. By acting in this way, Israel infringes the residents' right of property and their right to freedom of movement and to gain a livelihood.
International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits the occupying power to destroy homes or personal property of residents, "except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations" (article 53, Fourth Geneva Convention). Most of the Separation Barrier has been built in the West Bank, and not along the Green Line, on Palestinian lands that were seized or confiscated for this purpose. It should be noted that in July 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the route of the barrier is illegal. Demolition of additional homes solely because the barrier was built near them only aggravates the breach of law.
B'Tselem calls on Israel to immediately cease the demolition of houses near which the Separation Barrier has been built.