8 April 2016 – Homes Demolitions

 

Excellency,

I have written nearly on weekly basis to draw international attention to the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the territory that constitutes the State of Palestine.  In each letter, we have underscored our grave concerns about the breaches of international humanitarian and human rights laws being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, which are inflicting widespread human suffering and deliberately destabilizing and inflaming the situation on the ground.

In each letter we have called on the international community, especially the Security Council, to uphold the obligations to respect and ensure respect of international law and to determine the necessary measures to compel Israel to end its war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinian people in order to alleviate the suffering, stem the deterioration of the situation and salvage the prospects for peace.  Regrettably, the Security Council has not upheld its obligations despite the clear consensus of positions by the international community on both the illegality of Israel’s policies and practices against the Palestinian people as well as the urgency of bringing an end to this decades-long conflict so that the Palestinian people can finally realize the freedom, rights and justice they have for too long been tragically denied.  

As a result of this inaction, Israel, the occupying Power, has continued and even intensified its destructive policies and practices against the defenseless Palestinian population, including, inter alia, the use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians, including children and women, causing death and injury. We must highlight the deepening vulnerability of Palestinian children, as they continue to bear the brunt of the increasingly oppressive, violent and illegal Israeli policies and practices. Just this week alone, two Palestinian children, ages 12 and 13, were shot in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets by Israeli occupying forces, while another Palestinian child, No’man Basal, age 14, sustained fractures and injuries after an Israeli occupying jeep ran him over in an area of Yatta town near Al-Khalil. They all remain in critical condition.

Moreover, Israel has been unrelenting in its illegal colonization practices, with settlement and wall construction continuing unabated. An Israeli think tank has recently reported that additional budget transfers by the Israeli government to settlers living in illegal settlements grew 28.4% in 2015 over 2014, a figure of $369.1 million dollars, clearly demonstrating the government’s direct and deliberate investment, as well as obsession, with its settlement colonial project. And as the occupying Power builds and expands more illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitute not only grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention but war crimes as defined by the ICC Rome Statute, it also continues with its illegal, repressive and punitive measures of home demolitions, leaving countless of Palestinian families homeless and hopeless.  The destructive impact of such Israeli violations is immense, as reflected in rising tensions, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and deepening anger and frustration among the Palestinian civilian population living under this nearly fifty-year old Israeli occupation.

 

In this connection, in just one day alone, on 4 April 2016, seven Palestinian homes were demolished in Occupied East Jerusalem, Surif, Qabatia and Duma by Israeli occupying forces, leaving nearly 30 Palestinians homeless, including six children. Needless to say, according to international humanitarian law, this systematic and institutionalized practice of home demolition by the occupying Power in occupied territory is tantamount to collective punishment – a war crime.

Even after widespread condemnation of the 4 April demolitions, the occupying Power, carried out yet more home demolitions.  On 6 April 2016, the occupying Power demolished six dwellings of Bedouin refugee families, leaving 34 people, including 19 children homeless from the community of Um Al-Khayr in the southern hills of Al-Khalil, located near the illegal so-called settlement of “Karmel”. It has been documented that the Um Al-Khayr community has faced constant threats of displacement since the “Karmel” settlement was illegally established in 1981 and expanded onto villagers’ land. In this regard, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), report that, just in this year alone, over 700 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli demolitions in the West Bank just in 2016.  The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Lance Bartholomeusz, said that, in just a little over three months of this year, the figure is approaching the total number of displaced for all of 2015.

As the international community continues to witness these destructive home demolitions one must question: how is it that the Palestinian population, who are supposed to be protected under the Geneva Conventions, can maintain conviction in international law as they witness their homes being demolished, their land being stolen and the fabric of their communities being ripped apart by the occupying Power that is obligated to protect that civilian population under its occupation in accordance with the law? Instead, the occupying Power is the cause of their insecurity, suffering and dispossession, as it continues its destructive actions and continues to actually build Israeli settlements on the very same occupied lands where it is demolishing the homes of the Palestinian civilian population and all of this is being done without punishment or any accountability for such illegal actions?  With this reprehensible trend on the rise and with OCHA reporting that some 90,000 Palestinians face potential displacement as a result of home demolitions, we urge the international community, in particular the Security Council, to demand an immediate end to this illegal Israeli practice. Without accountability, it is clear that such illegal behavior will continue, with far-reaching consequences for the viability of the two-State solution and objective of peace.

Before concluding, I must also draw attention to some of the other crimes perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in the period since our last letter to you:

  • 30 March 2016:
  • Israeli occupying forces detained 18 Palestinians, including five children, from Nablus, Bethlehem, Jenin, Al-Khalil and Jerusalem.
  • Israeli naval boats attacked Palestinian fishermen’s boats offshore of the northern Gaza Strip.
  • Occupying forces overnight stormed the family house of a Palestinian human rights worker for B’Tselem who captured video footage of an Israeli soldier extra-judicially executing Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif, age 21, in Al-Khalil neighborhood of Tal Rumeida.
  • A Palestinian child, No’man Basal (age 14) sustained fractures and injuries after an Israeli occupying jeep ran him over at an area in Yatta town near Al-Khalil.
  • 31 March 2016:
  • Occupying forces detained 13 Palestinians in predawn raids in Ramallah, Jenin and Nablus.
  • Israeli Occupying forces destroyed the interior walls of the family house of Ehab Miswada, who was shot dead by occupying forces about five months ago.
  • 1 April 2016:
  • Israeli occupying forces detained 11 Palestinians in predawn raids across the West Bank.
  • 2 April 2016:
  • Israeli navy boats opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, setting fire to a boat and causing it to sink.
  • Occupying forces detained seven Palestinians from across Hebron, Bethlehem, and Nablus,
  • Occupying forces shot, a Palestinian child, Hatem Abu Mayala (age 13), in the back of the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet as he walked to school in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, causing severe bleeding and a deep wound. While wounded, Hatem was also attacked and beaten up by the Israeli soldiers.

 3 April 2016:

  • Israeli occupying forces detained at 11 Palestinians in predawn detention raids across the West Bank, among them children.
  • Israeli occupying forces raided the town of Huwwara in Nablus, forcing shop owners on the town’s main street to close down.
  • Israeli naval boats shot machine gunfire towards Palestinian fishermen, who were sailing offshore the central Gaza Strip.
  • Israeli settlers razed private Palestinian land in the village of Jallud, south of Nablus.

 4 April 2016:

  • A Palestinian boy, Yazan Khalid Naaji (age 12), was seriously injured after an Israeli soldier shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at his head in Al-Issawiya neighborhood of Occupied East Jerusalem.
  • At least 12 Palestinians, including a university instructor, were detained by occupying forces during predawn raids across the West Bank.
  • Israeli settlers from the illegal “Eli” settlement built on the land of Al-Libban Al-Sharqiah, south of Nablus, threw stones at Palestinians’ vehicles, including those carrying families with children, traveling on the Ramallah-Nablus main road, breaking the windshield of one vehicle.
  • Israeli occupying forces punitively demolished the family homes of three killed Palestinians by occupying forces about two months ago.
  • Israeli occupying forces demolished five Palestinian-owned homes and a store in Al-Khalil, Nablus and East Jerusalem under the pretext of “construction without a permit.”
  • Occupying forces demolished the main slaughterhouse in Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem.
  • Occupation military bulldozers infiltrated Gaza borders and razed agricultural lands to the east of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip.
  • Occupying forces notified three Palestinians of their intent to seize their private-owned solar panels in the village of Al-Markez, in Al-Khalil’s Masafer Yatta area.
  • Israeli occupying forces detained 25 Palestinians, including three children, and summoned at least three others for interrogation during predawn raids across the West Bank.
  • 5 April 2016:
  • Israeli occupying forces detained 25 Palestinians, including three children, and summoned at least three others for interrogation during predawn raids across the West Bank.
  • Occupying forces notified three Palestinians of their intent to seize their private-owned solar panels in the village of Al-Markez, in Al-Khalil’s Masafer Yatta area.
  • Occupation military bulldozers infiltrated Gaza borders and razed agricultural lands to the east of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip.
  • Occupying forces demolished the main slaughterhouse in Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem.
  • 6 April 2016:
  • Israeli occupying forces raided and ransacked the contents of a printing house in the village of Doha, west of Bethlehem.
  • Israeli occupying forces detained 20 Palestinians from across the West Bank.
  • Occupying forces demolished six homes and animal barns in Khirbet Um Al-Khayr, a small Bedouin village the south of Al-Khalil.
  • Occupying forces notified the family of Mos’ab Ghnemat, a Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails, about their intent to demolish their home in yet another act of collective punishment.
  • Occupying forces forced a Palestinian family to demolish two rooms in their home in Beit Hanina, north of Occupied East Jerusalem under the pretext of “unlicensed construction.”
  •  7 April 2016:
  •  Israeli occupying forces demolished a number of Palestinian-owned residential structures in the village of Kherbet Tana, southeast of Nablus.
  • A Palestinian was shot and injured by occupying forces near Joseph’s Tomb, east of Nablus.
  • Israeli occupying forces detained 14 Palestinians from across the West Bank.
  • Occupying forces demolished a poultry house and automobile workshop in the village of Ni’lin, northwest of Ramallah, as well as a house and water well in the town of Samou, south of Al-Khalil.

As evidenced by the mounting list of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, Israel, the occupying Power, remains in complete disrespect of the law, causing endless destruction, suffering and anguish for our people.  We repeat today our appeal to the international community to provide protection for the Palestinian people, as a matter of urgency and in accordance with international law.  We also call for urgent action to compel Israel to halt its illegal colonization campaign in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem. Settlement construction must stop and home demolitions and land confiscations must end.  This is imperative to stem the deterioration and reverse the dangerous reality on the ground.  The international community must unequivocally demand an end to all of these Israeli violations and the Security Council in specific cannot be absolved of its responsibilities in this regard.

The time is long overdue to stop Israel from acting as a State above the law and in total contempt of the international community and clearly the time has come to finally end this illegal foreign occupation in all its manifestations. The Palestinian people cannot be expected to wait and wait while their lives continue to be destroyed, generation upon generation, by a merciless occupier while the world sits idly by watching.

This letter is in follow-up to our 581 previous letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine.  These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 30 March 2016 (A/ES-10/717-S/2016/295) constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000.  For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators be brought to justice.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations