Record number of Palestinian homes demolished in ’19: Group - GulfToday

Record number of Palestinian homes demolished in ’19: Group


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Israeli authorities have demolished at least 140 Palestinian homes in Arab East Jerusalem this year, a rights group said on Thursday, the highest annual number since it began keeping records in 2004.

The demolition of homes built without permits comes amid a major increase in Jewish settlement activity both in Arab East Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank since President Donald Trump took office.

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem said 238 Palestinians have lost their homes this year, including 127 minors.

The second highest number of demolitions on record was in 2016, when 92 homes were demolished.

Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Of the 140 units demolished this year, 31 were dismantled by their owners, B’Tselem said.

It said commercial structures are also being demolished at the highest rate on record, with 76 dismantled so far this year, compared to 70 in all of 2018.

The B’Tselem figures only cover homes demolished because they were built illegally, and do not include those destroyed for punitive reasons following attacks that kill or wound Israelis.

The Israeli military said on Thursday that it demolished a partially-built structure in a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah overnight.

It said the structure was being built on the site of the family home of a Palestinian who had killed an Israeli officer during an operation in May 2018.

It said the residence was demolished in December of that year, and that troops returned after they noticed that new construction was underway.

The military said dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks and firebombs at the Israeli troops during the demolition and that soldiers responded with “riot dispersal means.” It said there were no injuries among the soldiers.

The military also said it arrested a number of “operatives” from the Hamas group.

Meanwhile, the UN independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories called on Wednesday for an international ban on all products made in Israeli settlements as a step to potentially end Israel’s 52-year “illegal occupation.”

Michael Lynk told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that the international community should also issue “a clarion call to the United Nations” to complete and release a database “on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements.”

Lynk said the international community has a responsibility and a legal obligation to compel Israel to completely end its occupation and remove barriers to self-determination for the Palestinians.

He pointed to the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which he called “a human-made catastrophe” and “an injustice that should be near the top of the world’s agenda to end.” He said the economic situation there “continues to move from dire to acute to unimaginable,” with over half of Gaza’s population “food insecure,” the unemployment rate over 50 per cent, and 70 per cent of Gazans younger than 30 without work.

Lynk noted more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and over 33,000 wounded by Israeli fire at the Gaza-Israeli border since March 2018, when Hamas began organising protests against the blockade.

“Israel has demonstrated virtually no accountability to address these actions,” Lynk said.

Lynk, who is a Canadian law professor, said Israel’s occupation of territory the Palestinians want for their own state has been characterised by numerous and serious violations of international law, but “the international community has displayed great unwillingness to impose any meaningful accountability on Israel.”

As examples, he cited Israel’s failure to comply with its obligation to implement Security Council resolutions such as a 1979 demand for a complete end of Israeli settlements and a 2016 call to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities” in occupied Palestinian territory, including Arab East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their independent state.

Lynk also referred to four reports commissioned by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that found serious rights violations by Israel, including during the 2008-2009 and 2014 Gaza conflicts, protests at the Gaza-Israel border, and in Israeli settlement building.

“No occupation in the modern world,” Lnyk said, “has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the occupier’s obvious and well-signaled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end the injustice.”

Associated Press

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