The Unlicensed Building: Israel’s systematic policy to continue demolition of Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank

The Unlicensed Building: Israel’s systematic policy to continue demolition of Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank


Throughout its ongoing occupation decades, Israel demolished Palestinian houses for various reasons, all of which evolved around 'security needs’ and ‘building without permit’. The variation of the Israeli pretexts used to demolish Palestinian houses depended on the location of the house to be demolished. Israel always considered Area “C” which falls under the full Israeli administrative and security control, according to OSLO II Interim agreement of 1995, a pretext to demolish houses and other structures, for building without license.  


The Israeli Civil Administration issued, on the 6th of March, 2014 ,several halt of construction orders to a number of Palestinian families in Idhna town, west of Hebron city on the basis that the targeted houses were built without a permit in the area classified as “C” area [1] . The targeted properties are owned by (1) Wisam Jibril Hittawi who owns a house in Khallet Ibrahim area, to the southwestern side of Idhna town and is inhabited by 6 family members. (2) the second military order targets Sayel Mahfouz Sleimiyeh’s under-construction house in the same area. See Map 1: Location of the targeted houses

Idhna town has been a target of the Israeli Civil Administration for so long, as this wasn’t the first time that the town was served with halt-of-construction or demolition orders. Israeli occupation Authorities constantly and deliberately targeted Palestinian houses in this town, especially those built in the area classified as “C”, under the pretext of unlicensed building. Note that according to the Oslo agreements (OSLO I and OSLO II) signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 & 1995, Israeli forces redeployments were scheduled to take place so that by the end of year 1999, the Palestinians would gain control over 95% of the West Bank area; however, Israel did not comply with the signed agreements and proceeded to make delays on the transfer of powers and responsibilities relating to territory to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), which led to only partial withdrawal from the Palestinian land. By March 2000, the areas under effective Palestinian control (area A) amounted to no more than 17.7 %; area B amounted to 18.3% of the total West Bank total area while the remaining area which constituted 64% of the total West Bank area (Area C and the Nature Reserve) remained under the full Israeli control and weren't handed over to the Palestinians. Israel is illegally targeting Palestinian homes in areas under their control, which, according to the signed agreements, were supposed to be delivered back to the Palestinians. The following are some of the incidents that took place in Idhna town during the previous years:  

On the 16th of February, 2014, the Israeli Civil Administration issued halt-of-construction orders to a house and a number of barracks in West Idhna, under the pretext of building without license in the area classified as “C”. The targeted properties are owned by (1) Mahmoud Abu Jheishe who owns a two-storey house and two barracks; and (2) Arafat Yousef Abu Jheishe who owns a barracks.

Earlier on the first of September 2013, the Israeli Civil Administration issued one demolition order and another halt-of-construction order to two houses owned by Palestinians families in West Idhna. The houses are owned by Hani Kahlil Mohammad Awawdah and Ziad Abdel Aziz Batran. The halt-of-construction order holds number 151426 and targets an under-construction house; while the demolition order holds number 294015 and targeted an 100 square meters under construction owned by Mr. Al Batran. See  Order 1 & Order 2 


 The Israeli Military orders targeting Awawdah and Al Batran houses.

The Israeli Civil Administration also issued on the 24th of July, 2013 a military order to stop the construction of a water wall in Wadi Al Balluta area west of Idhna town which is being constructed by the Municipality of Idhna itself. The order holds number 392287 and states the immediate halt-of-construction to the water well and demolish what has been built in 7 days from the issuance date of the military order,  under the pretext of being constructed without the a building permit.  See Copy of Military Order

Israeli military order given to Idhna Municipality

Additionally, on the 24th of July, 2014, the Israeli several administration gave citizen Ahmad Hashem Al Batran a halt-of-construction order to demolish his under-construction house in Wadi An Naqi area in Idhna town under the same pretext . The order holds number 151689 and was given to Mr. Al Batran under the pretext of “unlicensed building”. See copy of Military order


Israeli military order given to Mr. Al Batran in Idna Town.

Again on the 20th of January 2013, the Israeli civil administration issued military orders targeting three houses and three other barracks in Wadi An Naqi area, west of Idhna town under the same pretext. The houses belong to Hussein Muhammad Farajallah, Bilal Abdel Hafez Abu Zalta, Abdel Hafez Mahoud Abu Zalta, Abdallah Mahmoud Abu Zalta, Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Theib and Nader Muhammad Mahmoud Faraj. See copy of Military Orders



Additionally, on the 23 of November, 2012, the Israeli Civil Administration issued  military orders to demolish seven Palestinian houses in Khallet Harb in Idhna town under the same pretext. The targeted houses are owned by Haitham Fadel Muhammad Asfour, Wael Fadel Muhammad Asfour, Jamal Bader Asfour, Nader Bader Asfour, Ahmad Younis Asfour, Muhammad Younis Asfour and Iyad Issa Abu Harbeid.

Furthermore, on the 24th of November 2011, the Israeli occupation bulldozers demolished a house and agricultural rooms, and caused severe damages to two water wells in Al Bass and Ar Ras areas. The demolished properties were owned by Ahmad Jamal Al Jiyawi, Haitham Abdel Fatah Awawdah, Abdel Rahman Muhammad Hasan Farajallah and Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim Farajallah.  

Another incident took place on the 22 of December 2011, when the Israeli Occupation Bulldozers demolished seven water wells and water tanks used to irrigate 30 dunums of lands in Idhna town in addition to six agricultural rooms. The Israeli occupation Army who were present at the demolition site also seized eight other water generators. Demolished and seized properties were owned by Muhammad Hussein Isma’il Abu As’ad, Muhammad Jibrin Tumeizi, Ahmad Abdel Rasheed Tumeizi and Muhammad Al Batran.

To conclude,

It appears from the foregoing that Israel is never tired from targeting properties in Idhna town, and continues to do this under the same pretext, “building without license”, in an attempt to unilaterally and illegally control the land and properties in the areas that are still under its control. Not forgetting to mention that Idhna town, is one among many Palestinian communities that are being targeted on daily basis at the hands of the Israeli Occupation Authorities in violations of All international laws and Human conventions.  

The Israeli actions in all of its forms reflect the Israeli position from the peace process, which aims to undermine any chance for the Palestinians to establish an independent and viable state. At the same time, Israel makes no effort to halt its colonial plans in the Israeli settlements in violation of the agreements signed with the Palestinians and more importantly, in violation of all international efforts that are being exerted to revive the peace process.

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949 states that “ the 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”.

As well as ARTICLE 147 of the same convention states that  “….  extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.

Also Article 17. Of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, states that (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. And (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Finally, the 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] According to the Interim agreement (OSLO II of the year 1995), the Palestinian territory was divided into areas A, B and C, designating various level of control, and while Area A, designates Palestinian Authority complete autonomy over administrative and security issues; Area B, granted Palestinians only civil/ administrative responsibilities; while in Area C, Israel had full control over this area which constitutes 61% from the total West Bank area.

Prepared By  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Settlements