On 17 and 19 August, Israeli forces demolished at least 30 Palestinian-owned residential and animal structures in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.
These demolitions included 14 homes and four animal barracks in four Bedouin communities in Al-Khan Al-Ahmar and Z'ayyem, located to the east of Jerusalem. The demolitions, which took place on 17 August, affected and displaced at least 86 Palestinians, many of whom are children. This is the only area wherein Bedouins near Jerusalem are still residing; as Israeli authorities transferred other Bedouins from the rest of their habitual areas.
On 19 August, Israeli forces demolished a residential building under construction in Wadi Al-Joz, Jerusalem because it lacked a building permit. The Totah and Totanji families constructed the building for their children to live in. The Israeli Civil Administration issued a stop-building order six months ago. The case was then transferred to the municipality court in Jerusalem. On 15 July 2015, the court ordered that the owners pay a fine of 550,000 shekels (approximately USD 139,664) and attain a building permit within a year. The two conditions are almost impossible to fulfil: the fine was prohibitively expensive and unaffordable, and the land on which the building is constructed is classified as 'green land' by the Israeli authorities, where construction is not allowed. The two families effectively had no option but to wait for the demolition to take place.
On Tuesday 18 August, Israeli forces demolished six residential structures, wherein 40 people from the Bedouin community resided, the bathrooms connected to the homes, and four animal barracks in Fasayel in the central Jordan Valley area. Water and electricity networks were also demolished. On the same day, Israeli forces demolished a storage room, a kitchen, and a balcony in Jericho.
Most of the structures demolished in Fasayel were simple, and made of zinc sheets and other raw material, and had been used for eight years. The residents were not allowed to approach their homes, instead the IOF removed their belongings from inside. The ICA previously issued demolition orders for most of the structures, claiming they were built without a permit. However, residents of these affected areas assert that the Israeli authorities refuse to issue building permits in the Jordan Valley. During the demolition process, Israeli forces imposed a closed military zone on the area.
Countless Palestinian families and communities have been displaced due to Israel’s discriminatory permit process, which serves to deny Palestinians their right to adequate standard of living, to housing, and to utilize and enjoy their own natural resources, amongst other rights. Israel rejects over 90% of the permits submitted by Palestinians for construction. Because of this, Palestinians are effectively forced to repair, expand, or construct their homes or relevant structures without the necessary permit. Recently, the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and property has escalated throughout Jerusalem and Area C. Israel intends to forcibly transfer Palestinians from Area C and areas surrounding Jerusalem in order to allow for the execution of the E1 Plan, allowing for more settlement expansion.
Under international humanitarian law, the extensive destruction and appropriate of property is prohibited unless rendered a military necessity. It constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The severe conditions imposed by the Israeli authorities on communities residing in this area through the destruction of their homes and the absence of basic services, such as being connected to water and electricity networks, result in the forcible transfer of Palestinian communities, which also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime. Al-Haq calls on the international community to take action to end Israel's arbitrary demolitions of Palestinian homes and property, aimed at forcing out Palestinians from their land in Area C and Jerusalem.