Forceful Mass Displacement as a Result of House Demolitions in Occupied East Jerusalem

Date: 24 July 2019

The Israeli occupying authorities are accelerating illegal policies and practices to forcibly transfer Palestinians out of Jerusalem. Early this week, on Monday, 22 July 2019, the Israeli occupying forces raided the Palestinian village of Sur Baher, placing it under military closure, and demolished 13 buildings containing about 70 Palestinian apartments in the Wadi Al-Hummus neighborhood on the grounds of their close proximity to the Annexation Wall, which the International Court of Justice deemed illegal in 2004 and called on Israel, the Occupying Power, to dismantle.

Despite repeated international condemnation of Israel’s house demolition policy, as amounting to extensive and unlawful destruction of Palestinian homes and property, the Israeli occupying forces have maintained the practice and accelerated the rate of demolitions, in particular in occupied East Jerusalem. According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) over the past 10 years Israeli occupying forces has demolished more than 1,100 structures in Jerusalem, displacing more than 2,000 Palestinians. Between 2 January 2019 until 17 July 2019 Israel has destroyed 126 structures in Jerusalem displacing 203 Palestinians a significant acceleration from previous years.

Israel, the Occupying Power, continues to use “security” as a pretext to carry out house demolitions throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), such as the demolitions carried out in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Al-Hummus neighbourhood on 22 July 2019, despite extensive destruction of property carried out unlawfully and wantonly amounting to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which entails individual criminal responsibility of the perpetrator. In addition, the mass demolitions carried out in Wadi Al-Hummus may amount to the crime of forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime and a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute. Third States, in particular the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, are under an obligation to ensure respect for the right of the protected Palestinian population and to cooperate to bring to an end serious breaches, prosecute perpetrators, and abstain from rendering aid or assistance that might be used by Israel, the Occupying Power, to commit or maintain such breaches of international law.

Accordingly, the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) call upon third States to:

  • Abide by their obligations under Common Article 1 to the Four Geneva Conventions to respect and to ensure respect for international humanitarian law in the OPT, and to condemn the commission of suspected international crimes, including forcible transfer and extensive destruction of Palestinian property, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity;
  • Hold the Israel, the Occupying Power, accountable for its widespread and systematic violations of Palestinians rights and take all necessary measures to hold Israel accountable for grave breaches of international law, including but not limited to the imposition of diplomatic, military, and economic sanctions and restrictions on Israel, to bring its violations and suspected crimes to an end;
  • Engage with the mandate of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in order to register the damages inflicted on Palestinians in Sur Baher’s Wadi Al-Hummus neighborhood, and to assist Palestinians, including children, who have been left without shelter as a result of the demolitions; and
  • Call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to immediately open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, without any further delays, and activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms to hold Israeli perpetrators of international crimes accountable and to prosecute them before their own courts.

Union of Agricultural Workers’ Committee (UAWC), a member of La Via Campesina in Palestina is also part of the network that has issued the statement. (Cover Image: Reuters)