FACT SHEET: Demolition and Annexation profile in the West Bank - 23 FEB 2016

Compiled by the Rebuilding Alliance Team

Overview: 

  • Humanitarian Coordinator calls on Israel to halt demolitions in the occupied West Bank immediately and to respect international law Jerusalem, 17 February 2016: The Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Robert Piper, today called for an immediate halt to the destruction of Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank and for respect for international law.  “The number of demolitions for just the first six weeks of 2016 is greatly alarming,” said Mr. Piper. “Over 400 Palestinians, including 219 have been displaced from their homes – equivalent to over half the total number of Palestinians displaced in all of 2015.”

Underlying reason: De-facto implementation of 2012 Levy Committee Report

  • We are witnessing an increase in demolitions consistent with the newly released 2016 position paper by the Israeli NGO Yesh Din- Volunteers for Human Rights: “From Occupation to Annexation: the Silent Adoption of the Levy Report on Retroactive Authorization of Illegal Construction in the West Bank,” here is a 2 min video summary.  “The Government of Israel has been gradually absolving itself of its duty to protect the Occupied Palestinian population under international law by unofficially adopting the recommendations of a 2012 Levy Committee report which presented a legal doctrine according to which the laws of occupation do not apply in the West Bank and there is no impediment or prohibition under either international or Israeli law to build Israeli settlements there.”

  • “Many of the unauthorized outposts which the State of Israel now seeks to retroactively authorize are built either entirely or partially on privately owned Palestinian land. In some cases, retroactive authorization entails theft of private Palestinian property and its transfer to those parties who illegally invaded their lands, often using violence. The policy of retroactive authorization rewards dispossession and land grab. It is generally safe to assume that the GOI plans to retroactively authorize all Israeli construction on privately owned Palestinian land and allow it to remain in place.  To this end, the GOI has taken several courses of action: it established the land regulation committee and has been promoting legislation of the land regulation bill, known also as the outpost bill (Hebrew: 'Hasdara' bill). It is also establishing a land court specifically for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), which would have jurisdiction over matters concerning land ownership and possession. These actions reflect the GOI’s shift towards a new position, whereby it is not obligated to protect Palestinians’ property or bound by the prohibition on confiscating or damaging it. Israel has also adopted the Levy Committee's practical recommendations with respect to methods for overcoming obstacles that previously prevented promoting planning and authorization procedures for outposts built on state land.”

  • “One of the steps taken to adopt Levy’s legal doctrine is the requirement that all Israeli diplomatic missions abroad post a document issued in late 2015 by the Israeli Ministry of Affairs, indicating Israel’s official position that legally, the West Bank is not occupied territory. The document also presents Israel’s position that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are legal, and do not violate international and Israeli law.”

  •  Vulnerability Profile of Palestinian Communities in Area C by UN OCHA

  • The Palestine Crisis Map maps and references published reports of human rights abuse in the Occupied Territories using Ushahidi technology to show trends.  Please note these reports, currated by a researcher in San Francisco, are only those published in English-language periodicals.

PARTIAL LIST OF RECENTLY IMPACTED COMMUNITIES:

South Hebron Hills

  • Susiya: On Jan. 21st the State of Israel revoked the Israeli Army’s verbal promise to the people of Susiya that no homes or structures would be demolished while discussions regarding the village’s master plan are underway and arrested the village leader and Btselem researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah.   The GOI notified Susiya and their lawyers from Rabbis for Human Rights that 40% of the village of Susiya may be demolished without notice at any time, including all structures constructed after April, 2014 when Susiya appealed the ICA’s decision to the High Court of Israel. On February 4, military returned to Susiya, where they dismantled and confiscated two tents that were home to a family of 8, including 6 minors. The tents were donated to the family after their two previous tents were demolished on 20 Jan. 2016. Sources: Rabbis for Rights Susiya Legal Timeline, UNOCHA, B’Tselem

o   Intervention Requested:   Please urge the GOI to rescind demolition orders against Susiya’s homes and structures, and recognize Susiya’s master plan.   At the very least, please press the GOI to restore the Israeli Army’s promise that NO demolitions will take place while discussions are underway.

  • Umm al Kheir: Among the many demolition orders issued to Umm Al Kheir, five homes and a barn in Upper Umm al Kheir required immediate attention.  Even though they hold clear title to their land, those homes in the area now designated as State Land, are especially high risk of demolition.  The villagers were given a February 15th deadline to file a “License Permit Application” to the ICA in order to prevent demolitions.   The ICA’s notice of receipt of the application has not yet been received — villagers fear demolition at any time. Sources: phone calls with lawyer representing Upper Umm Al Kheir, UNHabitat, and the engineer tasked with developing Umm Al Kheir Master Plan

o   Intervention Requested:   Urge the GOI to freeze all demolition orders in the Umm Al Kheir area pending the filing of an amendment to their Master plan to include the privately owned land in Upper Umm Al Kheir; develop a statement regarding impact of Israel’s misuse of 1928 Ottoman Land Law on Palestinian communities.

  • Jembah:  2 Feb. 2016, Israeli authorities demolished a total of 22 homes in two Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, leaving 110 people, including 64 minors, homeless in mid-winter. The communities lie in an area declared by the military as Firing Zone 918. This comes immediately after the end of unsuccessful mediation between Israeli authorities and the communities, which now plan to renew their legal battle against attempts to expel them from their land. Demolition was halted after lawyers from the St. Ives Catholic Center for Human Rights petitioned the Israeli High Court, obtaining a court injunction postponing further demolitions pending a hearing. Sources: B’Tselem, Mondoweiss, The Guardian, Electronic Intifada

o   Intervention Requested:  Please express concern regarding Jembah and the establishment of military live-fire training zones in or near Palestinian villages.

Bethlehem Area

  • Wadi Foqin: In violation of the 4th Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law, the Israeli government has annexed 400 acres of its land, bulldozed 1,300 fruit trees on privately owned and tended farmland, and issued stop-work orders on a United Methodist-funded soccer field under construction for village children and youth. The nearby government-supported, Jewish-only settlement of Betar Illit discharges raw sewage onto village fields, making them unsuitable for agricultural use, and Israeli Defense Force solders and armed settlers from Betar Illit routinely make incursions into Wadi Foqin to harass and intimidate residents. Sources: Friends of Wadi Foquin Presentation by Mayor and Governorate

o   Intervention Requested:  Please express concern regarding the Betar Illit sewage system and continued appropriation of Palestinian agricultural land.  Please provide assistance with the village’s upcoming registration of their Master Plan and help them keep their new soccer field safe from demolition.

Ramallah Area/E1 Forced Relocation:

East Jerusalem:

  • Feb. 17: Annexation of Land in the Village of Issawiya:  Wednesday morning, Israeli forces demolished Palestinian agricultural facilities and leveled land in the village of Issawiya in East Jerusalem. Large amounts of Israeli forces were stationed throughout Issawiya during the demolitions.  Israeli authorities ordered this destruction to further plans to build a national park in Issawiya.  The project, known as 11092, rests on confiscating approximately 175 acres (740 dunams) of Palestinian land.  Source:  Alternative Information Center (a joint Israeli/Palestinian news source)

Northern Jordan Valley:

Possible Policy Action in response:

  • Press for Israel’s recognition of Palestinian master plans and land rights.  Over 119 master plans have been filed to date with only 3 approved;

  • Add terms and conditions to the U.S. Military Aid bill to safeguard Palestinian communities in Area C

  • Urge the reduction of U.S. loan agreements by the amount spent on settlements (as did Pres. George W. Bush):

  • §  P.L. 108-11 stated that the proceeds from the loan guarantees could be used only within Israel’s pre-June 5, 1967, area of control; that the annual loan guarantees could be reduced by an amount equal to the amount Israel spends on settlements in the occupied territories; that Israel would pay all fees and subsidies; and that the President would consider Israel’s economic reforms when determining terms and conditions for the loan guarantees. On November 26, 2003, the Department of State announced that the $3 billion in loan guarantees for FY2003 were reduced by $289.5 million because Israel continued to build settlements in the occupied territories and continued construction of the security barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians. In FY2005, the U.S. government reduced the amount available for Israel to borrow by an additional $795.8 million.

  • Include home demolitions in the definition of gross violations of human rights as cited in the Leahy Law and urge transparent implementation of the Leahy Law regarding the Government of Israel;

  • Recognize that demolitions are political, and urge the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to provide Political Risk Insurance to American companies seeking to provide financing to Palestinian families to build their homes on the land they own in accordance with their village’s master plan.

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