Demolishing Palestinian homes is one of Israel’s “most immoral policies”, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) said this week.
The PLO said 31 Palestinian homes have been demolished since September 13 when restrictions on Muslims entering Al-Aqsa Mosque sparked a period of heightened tension that has killed more than 120 Palestinians and 22 Israelis or foreigners.
The demolitions followed the Israeli government’s decision to expand its policy of punitively demolishing the family homes of Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis; though some of the homes were also destroyed for not having building permits.
“Demolishing homes is one of the most immoral policies conducted by the Israeli occupation. Forcible displacement of Palestinians is part of the ongoing Nakba aimed at displacing our people and replacing them with foreign settlers,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. “The home demolitions in Jerusalem have reached such an intolerable degree that Palestinians are virtually prevented from building on their own land.”
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The PLO statement also said that the demolitions contravened international law and were a form of collective punishment.
It also highlighted the case of the Al Hadiyyah Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley, who Israeli human rights group B’Tselem last week said were being “harassed” by Israeli authorities.
B’Tselem said Israeli authorities have destroyed or confiscated several tents belonging to the Bedouin families and on Nov. 25 destroyed a dirt road leading to their tents, limiting access to and from the community.
The group said Israel’s treatment of the community was an attempt to expel Palestinians from the land that contravened international law, as it “constitutes the forcible transfer of protected persons inside the occupied territory, whether directly through home demolitions, or indirectly, by creating unlivable conditions.”
On Monday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that despite almost half of Jerusalem’s population being Palestinian, only 7 percent of building permits issued in the city went to Palestinian neighbourhoods.
A UN report in June said overcrowding because of a lack of housing for Palestinians was exacerbated by the difficulties in obtaining building permits, in contrast to Israeli settlements or neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.
The report added that the lack of permits routinely forced Palestinians to build homes without permission, despite the risk of demolition in the future.
The Israeli government ruling on punitively demolishing homes of Palestinian suspects also emphasised that the homes would not be allowed to be rebuilt afterwards.
According to the PLO, 30,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967, with 3,000 destroyed in East Jerusalem alone.