Beit Jala and the Israeli Methodic House Destruction Policy !

Beit Jala and the Israeli Methodic House Destruction Policy !

Beit Jala is located about 1 km west of Bethlehem City. It houses a population of 16,183 persons (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2005), and its built up area spreads over 3,020 dunums of land. The city is bordered by Sharfat and Beit Safafa from the north, Al Khader village from the south, Bethlehem City from the east and Battir village from the west.


During the last thirty nine years, Beit Jala was not safe from the Israeli aggressions, two settlements have been constructed on the lands of the city; they are 'Gilo' established in 1971 and 'Har Gilo' established in 1972.


From the year 2003, and after the Israeli Government’s decision to build the Segregation Wall in the West Bank, Beit Jala city has witnessed a dramatic escalation of Israeli aggressive practices depicted in the confiscation of thousands of dunums of the city’s land, trees uprooting, land razing and demolition operations. Hence the city was seriously effected by the construction of the Wall, especially that the total Wall length is 11.7 km. 2.7 km of the Wall was already constructed in the city while the remaining 9 km are still planned. As a result 6420 dunums from the city’s land will be totally isolated behind the Wall.


Demolitions in Beit Jala

On April, 5, 2006 the Israeli Bulldozers guarded by the Israeli Border Police, razed a 25 Square Meter barracks that belongs to the resident Yousif Issa Yousif Mossallam from Beit Jala and demolish it completely. (See Photo 1 & Photo 2).



Mr. Yousif Mossallam had received a military order holding # 1400781 demanding him to immediately halt construction in the site and apply for a building permit at the Civil Administration office in Bet Eil. After less than a month he received another military order holding # 300439, notified him that he has seven days to demolish the construction, and if he fails to do that the Israeli authority will demolish it and the owner will pay all the associated expenses.  (See Map 1)


It is worth mentioning that the demolished barracks lies in a piece of land adjacent to the planned segregation Wall in the area. The Israeli authority had previously in September 2004 issued a military order demanding the creation of a buffer zone that averages between 150-200 meters on the eastern side of the Segregation Zone in the West Bank where new construction is prohibited. The area targeted in the demolition order in Beit Jala falls within the intended buffer zone, therefore it is believed that creating a buffer zone was the direct cause behind the demolition order.


Demolitions under international law

The Israeli methodic house destruction flagrantly violates international humanitarian law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel Is prohibited from destroying Palestinian property:

  • Article 53 of the Convention provides that 'Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.'

  • And article 147 of the same Convention provides that “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” is a grave breach of the Convention.


The demolition of houses causes extensive damage to the civilian population, which will bear the consequences for many years to come. Damages of this kind to the civilian population cannot be justified on the grounds of 'pressing military necessity,' as Israeli officials contend.




Prepared by
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem


Categories: Demolition