In the past week, Al-Haq has documented three demolition incidents of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank.
Mohammad Sidqi Bani Fadl– Khirbet al-Twayyel– Nablus
Mohammad, 43, lives with his wife and five children in a two-storey house which is built of bricks and roofed with zinc. Mohammad also owns a water tank which is located next to his house. Mohammad’s brother Anwar, 40, lives with the 15 members of his family in a similarly structured house and also owns a water tank, located next to Mohammad’s dwelling. Both brothers have been living in these houses since 2008.
On 29 April, at approximately 2:30 am, Mohammad woke up to the sound of Israeli military jeeps and soldiers surrounding his and his brother’s residences. He recalls that there were approximately 20 military jeeps, six bulldozers and around 400 Israeli soldiers in Khirbet al-Twayyel.
An Israeli officer approached Mohammad and instructed that his and his brother’s houses should be evacuated and the cattle and furniture removed. Mohammad refused. The officers then sent in seven Israeli personnel who were dressed in civilian clothes, to empty the houses. The families were then ordered to stand 100 metres away from the house. The process of demolishing the two houses and water tanks lasted for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.
Neither Mohammad nor Anwar received prior notice from the Israeli authorities with regard to this demolition. The same authorities claim that the houses were built in Area C which is under Israeli control and that they lacked building permits. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9554/2014)
Usama Anas Bani Fadl– Khirbet al-Twayyel – Nablus
Usama, 40, and the 11 members of his family live in Khirbet al-Twayyel. In 2008, the Israeli Civil Administration gave Usama a notice to halt the construction of his house. On 29 April, at approximately 2:30 am, around 20 Israeli military jeeps and six bulldozers arrived in Khirbet al-Twayyel and imposed a security cordon on the vicinity. Usama’s house was demolished after its contents had been emptied.
Usama recalls seeing two Israeli bulldozers demolish Khirbet al-Twayyel mosque which is located 150 metres away from his house. The bulldozers demolished a water tank, a room and two bathrooms near the mosque. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9555/2014)
Mahmud Musa Maslamani – al-Tur – Jerusalem
Mahmud, 57, was forced to leave his previous house and buy a piece of land in al-Tur and build two residential structures – one for him and his family and the other for his son and his son’s family. He did not apply for a building permit then as he thought that these structures do not require one.
When the two families moved in, an employee from the Israeli Civil Administration gave Mahmud a notice to stop construction and an order to self demolish the two structures within 24 hours. Mahmud filed an appeal at the Magistrate and Central Courts of Israel which was rejected by both. The Central Court order gave Mahmud until 31 March 2014 to self-demolish the two structures. His son demolished his residence on 29 March 2013 but Mahmud did not.
On 29 April, at approximately 6:30 am, Israeli forces were at the family’s front door and ordered them to leave their home as they were going to demolish it. During the demolition process, Mahmud’s son was prohibited from entering the premises and was beaten and arrested along with another friend of his. Mahmud has no alternative residence for the time being. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9556/2014)
According to Al-Haq’s field researcher, on 30 April, Israeli bulldozers accompanied by Israeli military soldiers demolished two residential houses and an agricultural house in the al-Bass and Khilet al-Sharabati areas south of Hebron. The Israeli authorities claimed that they were all built without acquiring building permits. Following the demolition, clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and young men from the nearby refugee camp. The soldiers retaliated by firing tear gas and sound canisters as well as rubber bullets. Previously, the owners of the houses received two warnings to halt construction in their houses. The owners went to the Israeli Supreme Planning Council to appeal the decision and to apply for building permits. Both the appeal and the application were denied.
Al-Haq strongly condemns all demolition operations carried out by the Israeli authorities, which displace families and are in violation of international law. As the Occupying Power, Israel must adhere to its obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the destruction of property unless it is absolutely necessary for military operations.
Furthermore, the destruction and intentional damage of institutions dedicated to religion is prohibited as per Article 56 of the Hague Regulation. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, unnecessary destruction of buildings dedicated to religion constitutes a war crime.