A history of destruction

Israel’s continuing rampage of destruction in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip not only violates Geneva conventions, it is a war crime. It is now well past time for the imposition of economic and other sanctions against Israel.

So far this month, more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them refugees, have been made homeless, some for a second time in the past two years and more house demolitions have been promised by the Israeli authorities. Almost 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been made homeless in the last three years by Israeli housing demolitions.

Governments and human rights organizations throughout the world have been pointing out Israel’s illegal actions. The U.S. State department says in a report released on 18 May that Israel has carried out policies of demolitions, strict curfews and closures that directly punished innocent civilians.

The international development committee of the British House of Commons earlier this year called on the British Government to urge the European Union to impose trade sanctions on Israel by suspending the favorable conditions Israel enjoys in its trade with the EU.

This call was echoed was a group of 275 European politicians, 210 European NGOs this month for an end to Israel’s favorable trading terms with the EU.

Amnesty International has pointed out that the right to housing is a basic right enshrined in a number of human rights laws, including Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties to which Israel is a signatory.

Under the slogan “Israel Boycotts International Law and Human Rights—We Boycott Israel!”, 18 Palestinian civil society organizations, among them BADIL, called in 2002 for sanctions against Israel. It is time to renew the call in response to the damage Israel is causing to the health conditions, economic prospects and human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The following provides a history of housing demolitions in Palestine from the British Mandate period up to 2004 under the Israeli occupation:

  • 1930s, British administration in Palestine uses house demolition as a means of quelling the indigenous uprising against British rule.
  • 1936-1939 the British demolished more than 5,000 Palestinian homes.
  • 1948, the newly established state of Israel begins demolishing homes of Palestinian refugees to prevent their return. More than 125,000 homes, some of which were damaged during the war, were systematically destroyed in a process referred to as “cleaning up the national views”.
  • 1950s, Israel expels Palestinians from border areas and from villages where part of the Palestinian population remained after the war and demolishes Palestinian homes.
  • 1967, Destruction of housing stock during the war included 375 homes in Imwas, 535 homes in Yalu, 550 homes in Beit Nuba, an estimated 135 homes in the Moroccan quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, 1,000 homes in Qalqilya, in addition to thousands of homes of Beit Marsam, Beit Awa, Jiftlik, and al-Burj as well as refugee camps in the Jericho area and the Gaza Strip.
  • Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes across the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for punitive and administrative reasons. More than 20,000 homes are demolished from 1967 to the early 1990s. This does not include refugee shelters. In the 1970s and 1980s Israel demolished more than 10,000 refugee shelters in Gaza to create a so-called security corridor between the southern Gaza Strip and the Sinai and to widen roads in the camps for Israeli military patrols. Demolitions were also part of a campaign to forcibly resettle refugees outside camps. Most
    demolitions occurred under Ariel Sharon then IDF Commander of the Southern Front.
  • Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes inside Israel. In 2003 demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Naqab (Negev) increased by 8 times. More than 100 homes were demolished. An additional 280 homes were destroyed in the Galilee and the Triangle. In total more than 500 homes were destroyed. There are an estimated 12,000 outstanding demolition orders in the Galilee and some 30,000 in the Negev.
  • From 1993-2000 Israel demolished more than 1,000 homes across the occupied Palestinian territories.
  • Since the beginning of the second intifada (uprising) in September 2000 Israel has demolished more than 3,000 homes.
  • Since 1948, it is estimated that Israel has demolished well over 200,000 Palestinian homes.
  • The demolition continues.

    Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: Israel’s “Operation Rainbow” in Rafah, Gaza
  • BY TOPIC: House Demolitions
  • BY TOPIC: Refugees