Just before dawn, Israeli bulldozers demolished three Palestinian homes in Al Walajeh village northwest of Bethlehem

Just before dawn, Israeli bulldozers demolished three Palestinian homes in Al Walajeh village northwest of Bethlehem


On the 12th of April 2016, the Israeli occupation machinery and bulldozers stormed before dawn Ein Al Juweiza neighborhood in the village of Al Walajeh village northwest of Bethlehem city and demolished three Palestinian homes in the village conducted under the pretext of lacking valid building permits and notified forth other of final demolition under the same pretext.

Earlier on the 10th of April 2016, owners of the demolished and notified homes received a surprised night visit from Crews of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem who gave them final demolition orders of their homes notifying them of the municipality intention to execute the demolition;

24 hours later, (at 3:00 am of 12 April 2016) the Israeli bulldozers stormed the village and demolished three out of four homes notified of demolition. Owners of the targeted homes were identified as:

1- Maher Abu Khyara who owned a 140 square meters home built since 2009. The home was inhabited by 7 family members. Mr. Maher wasn’t allowed to salvage any of his properties before the demolition started and all his belongings were destroyed. ARIJ field-workers interviewed Mr. Abu Khyara who stated that the Israeli soldiers arrived to the site, closed all roads leading to his home and detained all family members and the neighbors in one place and hindered them from protesting against the demolition. One hour later, the Israeli bulldozers left the site and moved on to demolish other homes in the neighborhood.

Photo 1-3: Scenes of the Demolition of Maher Abu Khyara home

Photo 4: Order given to Mr. Maher Aby Khyara


2- Issa Al Quntar: He built his home six months ago and was about to move and live in it along with his family. Mr. Issa, who holds a Jerusalem ID card, explained to ARIJ field-workers that he never received demolition orders from the Municipality of Jerusalem, nor was he notified of the final demolition process of his home which was carried out early this morning. Note that on the 15th of March 2016, crews of Jerusalem municipality paid a short visit to his under-construction home, took photos of it and left the area without leaving any written orders/notifications. See Photo 5


Photo 5: The home of Issa Al Quntar before Demolition – 15 March 2016

Photo 6: The house of Issa Al Quntar After Demolition – 12 April  2016


3- Ubeida Al Muhtaseb: started building his 300 sqm building (a two-storey building) eight months ago. The latter building was still under-construction and was to offer space for two families. Earlier on the 15th of March 2016, crews of Jerusalem municipality visited the site and took photos of Al Muhtaseb home and left the area without leaving any written orders.


Photo 7: The home of Ubeida Al Muhtaseb Before Demolition  – 15 March 2016

Photo 8: The home of Ubeida Al Muhtaseb After Demolition  – 12 April 2016


4- Wael Nasim Abu Hamieda: He received a final demolition order of his home on the night of April 10, 2016.  Mr. Hamieda started building the house in late 2015 and was actually about to move and live in it.

On the 15th of March 2016, the Israeli committee for planning and building affiliated to the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem handed Mr. Abu Hameida a military order to stop the construction of his home under the same pretext. Mr. Hameida petitioned to the Israeli court and was able to get a court order delaying the demolition of his home until petition could be heard. Despite that, Mr. Hameida was surprised to receive a final demolition order of his home while a petition is still pending at court.


Photo 9: The threatened home of Wael Abu Hameida – Al Walajeh

Map 1: Location of the dmeolished homes in Al Walajeh Village – Bethlehem Governorate


Why Israel targets Ein Al Juwezah Neighborhood in Al Walajeh[1] Village

Ein Al Juweiza neighborhood is comprised of more than 80 Palestinian homes and buildings, most of which were built without building permits. The procedure of getting a license according as stated by residents of the neighborhood is difficult due to the critical location of their neighborhood, within the unilaterally and illegally declared Jerusalem Municipality Boundary. Inhabitants must obtain a valid building permit from the Municipality if they wish to build or add extension to their existing homes which fall within the Municipality boundary; however, it is almost impossible for them to obtain these building permits because residents of 'Ein Al Juweza neighborhood are considered as “illegal residents” living in a territory that falls under Israel’s jurisdiction and therefore must be evacuated. Therefore, inhabitants are effectively compelled to build without a permit because they have no other choice but to provide shelter for their families.  

Demolition of Palestinian homes under International law

The Life of Palestinians in Al Juweiza neighborhood is unbearable and residents suffer the harsh Israeli measures of the Jerusalem municipality when applying for a building permit. These measures aim at cleansing residents of Ein Al Juweiza neighborhood while allowing the building and expanding of Settlements nearby.

The systematic Israeli house demolition campaign carried out by the Israeli occupation Army flagrantly violates International humanitarian law, International conventions and various United Nations resolutions, some of which are listed below:-  

  • According to the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel is prohibited to demolish Palestinian houses under Article 53 of the Convention which 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'.
  • Under the same convention, Article 147 provides that 'extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly' is a grave breach of international law.
  • Moreover, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) Article 5 provides that: 'States' or Parties must 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'.
  • In the year 2004 the United Nations Security Council called on Israel to stop demolition of Palestinian homes under Resolution No. 1544-(2004), the resolution states: 'The Security Council called on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly the obligation not to undertake home demolitions contrary to that law'
  • Also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 1948, General Assembly Resolution 217/A/III, Article 17 stated: 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.' Which means it bans Israel from destroying or confiscating the property of the Palestinians at any case'.
  • Moreover, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – Property (ICCPR, article 1) provides that: All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.            


[1] Before the 1948 war, Al Walajeh village lands spread over an area of 17.793 km² and its boundaries extended west and reached till beyond the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line). Following the 1967 occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip , the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem expanded its administrative boundaries to include 18.048 km² of Bethlehem Governorate to its new borders. Al Walajeh village was one among many villages which witnessed the loss of its lands for the new and Illegal Jerusalem Municipality boundary. Today, the village spreads over an area of 4.327 km² and is home to 2503 inhabitants (PCBS 2015)[1]. Out of the total land area, an area of 2268 km² lies within the illegally declared Jerusalem Municipal boundary, in which 'Ein Al Juweiza neighborhood is located.




Prepared by:
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem


Categories: Demolition