Israeli actions demolish peace hopes - GulfToday

Israeli actions demolish peace hopes

Palestine Homes Being Destroyed

Israeli military machinery demolishes a Palestinian building in the village of Sur Baher which sits on either side of the Israeli barrier in East Jerusalem. Reuters

The Israeli destruction of several Palestinian homes in Sur Bahir is an act of aggression and a blow to international humanitarian law.

The Saudi cabinet has strongly condemned and denounced authorities of the Israeli occupation for the demolition of dozens of houses in east Jerusalem,” as per a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It has rightly called on the international community to intervene to stop this aggression and dangerous escalation that targets Palestinians.

Three United Nations officials have already issued a statement underscoring that the move was not compatible with Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Gwyn Lewis, Director of West Bank Operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and James Heenan, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in the area, have made it clear that among other things, the destruction of private property in occupied territory is only permissible where rendered absolutely necessary for military operations, which is not applicable.

Furthermore, the statement continues, it results in forced evictions, and contributes to the risk of forcible transfer facing many Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The plight of the Palestinian victims is palpable. Israeli forces entered the community early on Monday morning, while it was still dark. The large-scale operation forced families out of their homes and demolished a number of residential buildings on the East Jerusalem side of the barrier.

Residents and activists were mercilessly dragged out of homes, though most of the buildings under demolition orders — a total of 10 — were still under construction.

Earthmovers then demolished at least three multi-storey buildings.

An eight-storey building still under construction was later partially destroyed by explosives.

So much so that one man yelled, “I want to die here”, after being forced out.

Residents have reasons to fear that several more buildings in the area could be at risk in the near future.

It’s also distressing to note that among those forcibly displaced or otherwise impacted are Palestine refugees, some of whom today are facing the reality of a second displacement in living memory.

Several of the affected people have reported having invested their life savings in the properties, after securing the required building permits from the Palestinian Authority.

As the UN officials’ statement noted, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled against constructing the Israeli barrier and found that the parts running inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem — including the Sur Bahir homes — cannot be justified by military exigencies and thus violates Israel’s obligations under international law, said the statement.

Moreover, in a resolution of July 20, 2004, the UN General Assembly demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations as stated in the ICJ’s advisory opinion.

It is well known that Israel has been using security as a pretext to force Palestinians out of the area as part of long-term efforts to expand Jewish settlements and roads linking them.

Most of the buildings are located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the Oslo Accords of the 1990s.

The European Union has urged Israel to immediately halt the demolitions, and insists that this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution.

However, through such condemnable actions, Israel has repeatedly proved that it just does not care about international opinion.

It’s time for the world community to send a strong message to Israel that violation of international humanitarian law would not be tolerated.

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