Over 1,300 Palestinians, including children, have been displaced as a result of the rapid surge in home demolitions since US President Joe Biden took office, according to data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The data is composed of each permanent closure or destruction of a residential or commercial property, or key piece of infrastructure such as water pipes, roads and network facilities.
Palestinian lawyer, Diana Buttu told the Intercept, “Bennett’s making it clear that this is where the future of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship lies.”
“The future lies in the Palestinians being cordoned off into these tiny little ghettos. And all the land surrounding these ghettos will slowly be taken — be stolen — for Israeli settlements.”
Israel’s widely practised policy of home demolitions targeting entire families are acts of illegal collective punishment and come in direct violation of International Human Rights Law.
According to the Intercept, experts conclude that the increasing pace of Israel’s demolitions is due to Biden’s refusal to pressure Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, regarding Palestinian rights, despite it possibly being resolved over one conversation. Reporting that in the first 13 months of Donald Trump’s presidency, when Benjamin Netanyahu headed the Israeli government, 379 structures were demolished and 600 Palestinians displaced, less than half the number of those affected under the Biden-Bennett era.
“I don’t think it takes more than for him to pick up the phone and actually threaten Bennett,” Buttu said.
However, the well-being of Palestinians has clearly been “put on the back burner” in favour of Biden’s desire to secure a new Iranian nuclear deal and to continue the impression that Israeli attacks against Palestinians have reduced since the 11-day Israeli offensive on Gaza last May.
According to a report issued by B’Tselem earlier this year, Israeli occupation demolished 295 Palestinian residential structures in occupied territories in 2021, leaving 895 Palestinians, 463 of them minors, homeless.
Activists say Biden’s refusal to take any practical steps on the matter and apply meaningful pressure to the Israeli regime undermines his public opposition to its actions.
In a statement provided to the Intercept, IfNotNow national spokesperson, Morriah Kaplan, said, “It is time for Biden to do what five Presidents from both parties have done – leverage US aid and weapons sales to pressure the Israeli government.”
Meanwhile, Diana Buttu claims she is not shocked by Biden’s refusal to push Bennett to halt demolitions and settlement expansion. However, she expressed a feeling of disbelief at the refusal of most Democratic politicians, including some progressives, to stand up for the Palestinian people.
She said, “When it comes to demolitions, this is the part that I have never understood. I have worked with many of these families who have lived with the fear of demolition over their head. This is their life. These are their homes. This inflicts real trauma on kids. The fact that Israel has never been confronted about this policy is really sick. Instead, we have candidates that come forward and just behave as though this is normal.”