Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Six-Month Report on Demolitions and Seizures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (01 January – 30 June 2019)

14/10/2019 - 09:32
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The demolition and seizure of Palestinian property by Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continued during the reporting period. 296 Palestinian owned structures were demolished or seized, and 434 people (including 207 children) were displaced. These numbers mark increases of around 50 per cent and 150 per cent, respectively, compared with the equivalent period in 2018. Over 80 per cent of these structures were residential and livelihood structures. In addition, the demolitions and seizures in the reporting period adversely affected 39 738 Palestinians (including 17 353 children).

36 structures, constituting humanitarian assets, targeted in the reporting period were funded by the EU or EU Member States, which indicates an increase of around 38.5 per cent compared with the equivalent period in 2018. The total value of these structures, demolished or seized by Israeli authorities, was EUR 89 219, which represents an increase of around 46 per cent compared with the equivalent period in 2018. Other concerning developments that negatively impact the lives of Palestinians involve Israeli actions targeting educational facilities, destruction of water infrastructure, punitive demolitions, home demolitions in East Jerusalem, and displacement related to Israeli military exercises.

The restrictive planning and zoning regimes applied by Israeli authorities in parts of the West Bank (Area C and East Jerusalem), impede the development of adequate housing, infrastructure and livelihoods for Palestinians. Today, less than 1 per cent of Area C, and about 13 per cent of East Jerusalem, is zoned for Palestinian construction, which is a pre-condition for a permit to be issued by Israeli authorities, and most of these areas are already built up. Meanwhile, some 35 per cent of East Jerusalem has been zoned for Israeli settlements and 70 per cent of Area C is included within the boundaries of the regional councils of Israeli settlements and thereby off-limits for Palestinian development.[1]

As the Middle East Quartet found in its 2016 report, Palestinians are almost never granted building permits from Israeli authorities.[2] Palestinians who build without permits face the risk of home demolition and other penalties, including costly fines. Official data released by Israeli authorities in 2015 indicated that an estimated 13 000 Palestinian structures in Area C were subject to outstanding demolition orders issued by the Israeli Civil Administration due to lack of required building permits.[3] These pending demolition orders could be implemented at any moment. At least a third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack an Israeli-issued building permit, potentially placing over 100 000 residents at risk of displacement.

The practice of enforcement measures such as demolitions and seizures of humanitarian assets are contrary to Israel's obligations under international law, including provisions of international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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[1] OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

[2] Report of the Middle East Quartet of 1 July 2016.

[3] According to Israeli Civil Administration figures, from January 2000 to mid-2016, Palestinians filed 5 475 applications for building permits. Only 226 (about 4 per cent) were granted. ICA data also indicates that there was a 3 per cent approval rate in 2018.