International law flouted further by Israel with yet more demolitions of Palestinian homes in the South Hebron Hills

International law flouted further by Israel with yet more demolitions of Palestinian homes in the South Hebron Hills

Caabu is appalled to learn of yet more demolitions of Palestinian homes in the South Hebron Hills by Israel, a devastating increase in demolitions that has amounted to at least 684 Palestinian structures being demolished across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing 990 people. Israel has demolished more Palestinian homes in the first half of 2016 than it did in the whole of 2015.

On 9 August 2016, five structures (three of which were EU funded) in the Palestinian village of Umm al-Khair were demolished by the Israeli authorities. 27 people including 16 minors are now homeless as a result.

The demolitions follow a visit to the South Hebron Hills by Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who said she had witnessed “a tremendous amount of illegal Palestinian building in Area C, with the help of foreign funding”. Shaked insisted that there was a “double standard” from those who criticise illegal Israeli settlements.

Numerous Caabu delegations have visited the South Hebron Hills, including in September 2015 and February 2016. In February 2016, a Caabu delegation saw the impact of demolitions in Jinba, one of two villages that in total had 22 homes demolished on 2 February 2016. 15 of these homes were in Jinba, and the demolitions also extended to other structures such as pens for livestock and toilets.

Caabu is also deeply concerned about the situation for the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills, which numerous Caabu delegations have visited. The fate of Susiya’s 340 residents will now be determined by Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman after a High Court ruling said the decision to demolish 40% of the buildings, leaving at least 100 people homeless, would be up to him. The president of the High Court said that she would reject a petition from Susiya’s residents, submitted together with Rabbis for Human Rights, requesting from Israel’s occupation administration that structures Palestinians had built without permits from the army would be legally recognised. This decision is now for Lieberman to decide upon.

Caabu’s Joseph Willits said:

“Israel’s demolition frenzy of Palestinian homes is not only devastating for the lives that are uprooted, but Israel’s blatant antagonism towards the international community over illegal settlements and demolitions is becoming even more acute, particularly given the Justice Minister’s remarks on a visit to the South Hebron Hills. To make equivalence between illegal settlements and demolished Palestinian structures which stand zero chance of being approved by Israeli authorities is incredibly disturbing. State endorsement of illegal settlement expansion and demolitions which have displaced around 1,000 Palestinians this year, coupled with a total lack of tolerance for criticism of such violations of international law suggest an even more worrying and uncertain time for vulnerable Palestinian communities, like those in the South Hebron Hills. For the UK Government to simply condemn land grabs, settlements and home demolitions without action is not good enough, and yet again gives this Israeli government the green light to push forward with its policies, explicit violations of international law, in full knowledge that they will not be held accountable.”

Notes to editors:

1)          For more information or interviews contact Joseph Willits on (+44) 207 832 1325 or [email protected]

2)          UNOCHA Protection of Civilians Weekly report – figures on demolitions

3)          Video of demolition in Umm al-Kheir from B’Tselem

4)          Demolitions and Ayelet Shaked visit to the South Hebron Hills in Jerusalem Post

5)          Silence over Israel’s demolition frenzy