PLO Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat, on Wednesday strongly denouncing the Israeli home demolition acts as “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. The home demolitions in Jerusalem have reached such an intolerable degree that Palestinians are virtually prevented from building on their own land, while the occupation authorities continue to justify the systematic collective punishment of our people,” Erekat said.
In a statement, Erekat explained particular concerns with the situation in Al Hadidiya and the Jordan Valley, where Israeli colonization policies have dramatically reduced the Palestinian population for the benefit of illegal Israeli settlements. “The international community has the responsibility to protect the Palestinian people living under occupation, and particularly, vulnerable communities that have been deprived of their basic rights, including their right to a home and enjoyment of their property, access to their natural resources, and to other basic services.”
Erekat added that home demolitions are part of the Israeli colonial policy to facilitate the annexation of Palestinian land and forced displacement.
“Countries who claim to support the two-state solution but have failed to recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 border must do so immediately, just as other policies must be implemented, including banning all settlement products and divesting from all companies directly or indirectly involved with the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestine. We commend the efforts of civil society, working tirelessly to ensure their governments and communities stop rewarding companies involved in home demolitions through legislation and divestment campaigns.”
According to a study conducted by the PLO Negotiations Affairs Dept, since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 30,000 Palestinian homes in occupied Palestine, including over 3,000 in Occupied East Jerusalem alone. Since 13 September 2015, 31 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israeli occupying forces mainly under the pretense of “punitive measures” but also due to “lack of permits” from the occupation authorities.
Israel has imposed a systematic policy of Palestinian home demolitions since 1948, demolishing thousands of homes and over 500 villages and cities following the Nakba (catastrophe). The objective of the demolitions was mainly to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes. Large neighborhoods in cities such as Jaffa, Haifa, Isdoud, and Acre were completely transformed in an attempt to deny Palestinians of their internationally recognized right of return.
Since the 1967 military occupation, Israel, reinstated the policy of home demolitions as punitive measures and collective punishment. Other pretenses, such as lack of permits have also been used to prevent Palestinian natural growth/expansion within the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This practice has been particularly strengthened in areas closer to illegal settlements or zones of occupied Palestine that Israel intends to annex, including in and around East Jerusalem, Latrun, areas around Hebron and notably the Jordan Valley, where the population has decreased from 250,000 people in 1967 to approximately 70,000 today.
Click here to view the PLO Media Brief “Home Demolitions: A Grave Violation of International Humanitarian Law.”