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Icahd – rebuilding demolished Palestinian houses

THE ISRAELI COMMITTEE AGAINST HOUSE DEMOLITIONS (ICAHD)

Press Release – for Release Monday 12:00am (Jerusalem time) June 28th , 2012

Background information on Israel’s policy of house demolitions and international law

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PRESS RELEASE BEGINS HERE

INTERNATIONALS, PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS REBUILD PALESTINIAN HOME FOR FIFTH TIME The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) launched its tenth annual Rebuilding Camp this morning. More than 30 volunteers from around the world joined Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank town of Anata to rebuild a Palestinian home demolished five times by Israel.

The home belonging to Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh and their seven children (known as Beit Arabiya), located in the West Bank town of Anata, north-°©‐east of Jerusalem (Area C), has been demolished by Israeli authorities five times since 1998. The family applied three times to the Israeli Civil Administration for a building permit and was refused each time, as were 94% of Palestinian permit applications since 1993. Having no other alternative, they proceeded, as have thousands of other Palestinian families, to build their home, in which they lived for five years despite having been issued a demolition order. In July 1998, Israeli authorities demolished the home for the first time. Subsequently, the home was rebuilt and demolished four more times, with the last demolition occurring on January 23rd 2012.

Last week (Wednesday, June 27th) the United Nations Human Rights Council received the annual report of Prof. Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT. Falk highlighted the disturbing case of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, and stated it was “ilustrative of a common Palestinian complaint that their property rights are indirectly usurped through the denial of formal permits and the subsequent issuance and execution of demolition orders.” The UN expert further highlighted that “while it will be rebuilt once again next month, the family will live under the threat of having its home demolished at any moment. The ever-°©‐present threat of Israeli bulldozers perverts the sense of normalcy so essential for raising children.”

Every year hundreds of Palestinians are forced from their homes, homes built on land they own. Since 1967 Israel has demolished more than 26,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Israel’s policy of house demolitions and evictions is illegal under international law, and is politically motivated; its purpose is to disenfranchise entire Palestinian communities and expropriate their land.

Within the next two weeks (July 1st through 15th 2012) volunteers will rebuild Beit Arabiya, from foundation to roof, and during a dedication ceremony the keys will be handed over to the Shawamreh family. At the end of the camp, international participants return home as advocates for peace, carrying ICAHD’s vision of a just and sustainable resolution for both peoples.

Following a visit to Beit Arabiya after its last demolition, Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the OPT, called for an immediate end to Israel’s policy of home demolitions. “Israel as the Occupying Power has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and wellbeing,” he said. “The current policy and practice of demolitions cause extensive human suffering and should end.” Following his visit, Mr Gaylard also commended the work undertaken by ICAHD and partners to support Palestinian families in distress, and expressed serious concern about the repeated destruction of homes supported by ICAHD.

ICAHD has rebuilt a total of 185 Palestinian homes demolished by Israel and is determined to see this cruel policy stop. ICAHD co-°©‐founder and Director, Dr. Jeff Halper calls the rebuilding “An overtly political act of defiance. By rebuilding, we set alternative facts on the ground.”

PRESS RELEASE ENDS HERE

For further information including site visits to the rebuilding camp, please contact: Jeff Halper 0505-°©‐651425


BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON ISRAEL’S POLICY OF HOUSE DEMOLITIONS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

More than 26,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished by Israeli authorities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza since 1967. Israel’s policy of house demolitions and forcible evictions defies international law, and is politically motivated; its purpose, as documented by numerous UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures, is to disenfranchise entire Palestinian communities and expropriate their land in favour of illegal settlement expansion. In 2011 Israel demolished more than 600 structures, displacing over 1,000 Palestinians – nearly twice as many as in the previous year. As of June 2012, 330 structures have been demolished since the beginning of the year, including 100 family homes. As a result, 536 people were displaced and offered neither alternative housing nor compensation, and 2,119 people’s livelihood has been adversely affected.

House demolitions stand in breach of international humanitarian law, notably the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations. Under their provisions, the practice of demolishing Palestinian homes or infrastructure is a grave breach and even constitutes a war crime.

Furthermore, Israel’s practices in the OPT violate the human right to adequate housing as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 (Art. 25(1)); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 (Art. 11); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 (Art. 17); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1969 (Art. 5(e)(iii)); the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1990 (Arts. 16, 27); and General Comments 4 (1991) and 7 (1997) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Additionally, Israel’s policies and practices in Area C may very well constitute ‘inhuman acts’ under Article 7(1)(d) and ‘war crimes’ under Article 8(2)(a)(iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as a violation of the UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1973.

If current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the pre-°©‐1967 borders is rendered impossible. In fact, Israeli Parliament members from the ruling Likud party and its coalition partners introduced a draft bill in May 2012, calling for the application of Israeli sovereignty to Area C.

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