How Far will Israel go Demolishing Palestinian Houses?

How Far will Israel go Demolishing Palestinian Houses?

“February 2009” marked the elections of the new Israeli government, “the year 2009”marking also 61 years of “Palestinian Nakba” (Nakba means 'Catastrophe' in Arabic. It refers to the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced into exile by Israeli troops), the newly elected Israeli government reflected its stand on demolishing Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem; saying that its actions are legal and does not counter any international human right convention.

Israel adopted demolishing policy against Palestinian dwellings goes back to the year 1967, when the Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem, West-Bank, and Gaza territory, declaring all the civil management issues to be run by the army forces. In the year 1979 the “Israeli civil administration” came to being, which is a branch of the Israeli army founded to administer  the WB and Gaza territory, aiming to serve the interest of the occupation, and more important to establish de-facto status on the occupied lands.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 250 adopted on April 27, 1968,

warned Israel against holding an Independence Day Parade in Jerusalem, Israel's proclaimed capital. Israel ignored the resolution. In response, the Council passed UNSC resolution 251 condemning Israel's actions. The United States and Canada abstained from this resolution.

A status that denies the right of existent and self determination, a right that is allegedly protected by UN resolutions and human rights conventions, denying the residents there basic rights of housing and freedom of movement.

Israel had tried during its decades of occupying Jerusalem to lobby international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, denying all UN resolutions and international pressure to end the occupation. The occupying Israeli municipality of Jerusalem had issued building permits for Israeli settlers to build at well in Jerusalem but denied that same right to the original Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem in step to unbalance the demographic status, and toward creating a De-Facto status in the occupied city of Jerusalem.           

United Nations Security Council Resolution 298 adopted on September 25, 1971, after recalling previous resolutions on the topic …..'The Council deplored Israel's failure to respect the previous resolutions concerning measures and actions by Israel to affect the status of Jerusalem. The Council confirmed that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of Jerusalem aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section are totally invalid and cannot change that status. The Council called on Israel to rescind all previous measures and to take no further steps in attempting to change the status of the city and requested the Secretary-General report to the Council in 60 days on the implementation of the resolution”.


“East Jerusalem” is a part of the land occupied by Israel in 1967, and has been and still is a major target of an Israeli agenda to claim as part of the Israeli state in an illegal manner to the UN resolutions declaring Israel proclaim of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel against UN resolutions 250, 298, which demand Israel clearly and bindingly to stop all it’s measures legislative and administrative taken in the occupied territories after war.

Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention declares that destruction of property ”is prohibited, expect where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations” the demolitions that the occupying power had carried out in the occupied City of Jerusalem have no pretense of military actions, and are such clear violations of international Law.  

The right government that swept the recent Israeli election of Feb 2009 stated that it will never give up Jerusalem the capital of the Israeli state and that it will remain rigid when it comes to the city of Jerusalem, and  construction of settlements and house demolishing policy, which is aimed directly at the Palestinian population of Jerusalem, which include limitation of freedom of movement, strict construction codes (only when it comes to Palestinians), among other restrictions that counters the Fourth Geneva convention, international human rights treaties, and UN resolutions.

The EU head of mission report on East Jerusalem expressed clear multi concerns toward the Israeli occupation policies implemented in East Jerusalem, and the ongoing disregard of international resolutions and human rights violation, pointing out to the rings of illegal settlements that are build around the city of Jerusalem, and the demolishing of Palestinian houses there.

EU Head of Mission Report on East-Jerusalem: “Long lasting Israeli plans for Jerusalem, now being implemented at an accelerated rate, are undermining prospects for a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem and a sustainable tow-state solution….”

“The daily creation of facts on the ground in the city undermines the credibility of the Palestinian Authority and weakens popular support for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.…”    


The report also criticized the Israeli policy in Jerusalem describing it facts on the ground policy that is being implemented in East Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as an occupied territory in accordance to the UN resolutions and as not the capital of the state of Israel.

The EU head of mission report also came to mention the clear violations in East Jerusalem regarding ID cards and residency status procedures, the closure of Palestinian institutions, religious freedom transportation, infrastructure, and much more of facts on the ground policies that occupied East Jerusalem is facing as the report has came to mention.  

“Special Focuses” a report that was released on April 2009 by the UN OCHA in the oPt, described in details the planning crisis, on the difficulties that East-Jerusalem Palestinian residents face when it comes to hosing “Resulting from the failure of Israeli authorities to provide adequate planning for Palestinian neighborhoods” and some similar policy in area “C” in the West Bank, as the report stated.

The report comes to mention that of the displaced Palestinians by the Israeli house demolishing procedures; children count for 50 percent of those displaced and left with no alternative housing.

28 percent, is a conservative estimate of the number of Palestinians living in Jerusalem who are in danger of facing house demolitions ”Based on the population figures, this percentage is equivalent to some 60,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who are in risk of having their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities. This is a conservative estimate and the actual figures may be much higher.”

UN OCHA report “Special Focus” April 2009: “As the occupying power, Israel must ensure that the basic needs of the Palestinian population of the occupied territory are met. In order to meet this obligation the Israeli authorities should immediately freeze all pending demolition orders….…”


Such discriminatory policy that may be categorized as ethnic cleansing policy, which stand in violation to the international humanitarian law (IHL), was also cited in criticized manner the new U.S government and even if in a very shy statement made by the U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping the obligations entered into under the road map”.This clearly signifies that the Israeli policy is falling under immense international pressure made to bring an end the illegal Israeli policies and regulations against Palestinians and for the overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Chart No. 1 : Statistics  of Palestinian houses demolished in Jeruslame Governrate
between the years 2000 – April 2009 Source: ARIJ data base


ICJ Advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall 9 July 2004: “ the court has reached the conclusion that the construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying power, in the occupied Palestinian territory including in and around East Jerusalem and its associated regime, is contrary to international law and has stated the legal consequences that are to be drawn from that illegality ”


The following chart reflect part of the Israeli discriminatory policies against Palestinian Jerusalemite, it illustrates comparison between Palestinian Jerusalemite construction verses illegal Israeli construction since 1967.

Chart No. 2: Jerusalemite Palestinian construction growth Vs. Israeli illegal settlement construction in East Jerusalem


Numbers shown below in the table (See table No 1) Signify clearly, the inequality and unjust double standers that the Jerusalemite Palestinians and Palestinians living in area 'C' face for their housing building process, when comparing the number of permits granted for Palestinians who submit for house building licensing to the number of permits granted for the illegal build and expansion of Israeli settlements in area 'C'

Table 1: Building permits granted by the Civil Administration(2000 – 2006)


Building permits granted for Settlements in area 'C'

Building permits granted for Palestinians in area 'C'

























Source: the Israeli central Bureau of Statistics and the
Civil Administration 2000 – 2006


 To Conclude:

These Israeli discriminatory procedures against Palestinians in Jerusalem, area “C” and against the entire Palestinian population must end. Israel must be made to comply with the international law and not to be treated as a country “above the Law” for such leniency shown toward the continued violation by Israel to the international law and other humanitarian laws had much to reflect on the credibility of theses laws and the countries that stand for it.

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) Article 5 provides that 'States' Parties undertake to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all of its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: … (e) in particular … (III) the right to housing'.”   


[1]EU heads of mission report on east Jerusalem

[2] UN OCHA-oPt “Special Focus” report: Palestinian Crises in East Jerusalem (April 2009).

[3] Clinton: Israel’s demolition of East-Jerusalem homes harms peace efforts.



Prepared by:
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem










Categories: Reports