Home demolitions spike ahead of annexation

Israeli occupation forces demolish Palestinian-owned structures in the South Hebron Hills on 3 June.

Mosab Shawer APA images

Israel’s formal annexation of occupied land may be put on hold, but the forced displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank marches on.

Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the territory spiked last month, according to the human rights group B’Tselem.

Nearly 45 homes were destroyed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – which Israel has already annexed in contravention of international law.

Eight of the Jerusalem homes destroyed “were torn down by their owners, after they received a demolition order from the municipality and wished to avoid paying the cost of the demolition and fines to the municipality,” B’Tselem stated.

More than 50 people, including some 30 children, were displaced by the demolitions in East Jerusalem. In the rest of the West Bank, 100 people, half of them children, were left homeless.

In addition to the destroyed homes, Israeli occupation forces razed more than 35 non-residential structures last month.

B’Tselem published the above video of Israel’s Civil Administration – actually a unit of its military – demolishing five shelters belonging to the Abu Dahuk family near Jericho in the Jordan Valley on 3 June.

Occupation forces also confiscated solar panels, refrigerators and water containers.

In January, the Abu Dahuk family were displaced from a nearby area where they had lived for 30 years on the grounds that it was a closed Israeli military zone.

Israel has declared more than half of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley a closed military zone.

Palestinians living in those areas, many of them herding communities, are ordered to vacate their homes when Israel conducts military combat exercises.

But the true purpose of the closed military zone designation is to expropriate Palestinian land – and ultimately annex it to Israel.

Caterpillar, JCB equipment used

Israel’s Civil Administration supervised the razing of six homes in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills in early June:

It used equipment manufactured by Caterpillar and JCB to carry out this war crime.

Both corporations – American and British, respectively – have come under protest for their longstanding involvement in the destruction of Palestinian homes.

The Civil Administration dismantled and confiscated a livestock pen elsewhere in the South Hebron Hills later on in the month.

Occupation forces fired stun grenades at residents and activists who protested the confiscation:

So while Israel’s annexation hasn’t been formalized, Palestinians continue to be pushed out to make way for it.

As Hagai El-Ad, the director of B’Tselem, recently said, the lack of international action over the de facto annexation of West Bank land sends a permissive message to Israel:

“Do what you please with millions of Palestinians for as long as you wish. Almost anything goes, as long as you don’t officially formalize certain aspects so that we can all keep looking away from this injustice and pretend that it is temporary.”

So far this year, some 325 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in the West Bank, displacing around 370 people.

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How can this be stopped on the ground? JCB and Caterpillar must be out under pressure. They need to be hit in the only place which means anything to them. We can do that. We need to ensure the Boards are bombarded with protests, but also non-violent civil disobedience should disrupt operations where JCB or Caterpillar equipment is in use. After all, Rachel Corrie gave her life trying to stop them. We can put up with a bit of hassle.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.