Israel plans to tear down 13,000 Palestinian Buildings in Palestine

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has produced a report [pdf] in which it finds that

“Official data released by the Israeli authorities indicate that over 11,000 demolition orders – affecting an estimated 13,000 Palestinian- owned structures, including homes -are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank. These orders heighten the vulnerability of thousands of poor Palestinian households, some of whom are at imminent risk of forcible displacement.”

Area C of the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian West Bank comprises some 60% of the territory, in which about 300,000 Palestinians live.

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Tearing down Palestinian buildings is one way Israel constrains Palestinian life and economy, and encourages Palestinians to leave their homeland, in a kind of slow-motion ethic cleansing.

In contrast, about 356,000 Israeli squatters live illegally in Area C, in about 100 squatter settlements. The 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids occupying powers from transferring their citizens into occupied territories. The land on which the Israeli squatters live was stolen from Palestinian owners. While homes and buildings are routinely constructed by the Israeli squatters on these usurped tracts, Palestinians are forbidden to build, in their own homeland. This discrimination against the Palestinians has shrunk their GDP or economy by about a third from what it would be if businesses and homes could be freely constructed.

In accordance with the Oslo Peace Accords of the early 1990s, Area C should have been turned over to Palestinian administration a decade and a half ago. Instead, it has been ruled as the last outpost of colonialism, not for the benefit of its indigenous inhabitants, but for that of foreign squatters, 15% of them Americans.

The UN observes that Israeli authorities treat Israeli squatter settlements much better than they do Palestinian villages:

“Israeli authorities are actively involved in allocating this land for development by settlements. For example, between 2002 and 2015 the Israeli authorities issued tenders on public land for the construction of 12,639 housing units in settlements, including 2,359 in 2014 alone, the largest such figure during this period. 16 There is no similar process applied for the development of housing in Area C for the Palestinian population.”

The report implies that demolition orders should be taken extremely seriously, since those issued by Israel from the 1980s forward have gradually been implemented. So those 13,000 buildings are likely coming down.

12 Responses

  1. Thanks for this information. Unfortunately, the United States has consistently supported and enabled Israel’s policy.

    • Apartheid is the only word for this defacto ethnic cleansing that the US is supporting. A policy they themselves practiced exterminating the indigenous people from North America.

  2. Almost immediately after the Six Day War, Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked international law expert Theodor Meron for his opinion on the legality of settlements in the “Administered Territories”. He wrote a Top Secret Memo that concluded:

    “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

    He also wrote another memo that concluded that housing demolition similarly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    For more background information on Meron, see

    link to

    Meron’s opinion on settlements

    link to

    Meron’s memo on blasting homes and deportation

    link to

    “Israel Knew All Along That Settlements, Home Demolitions Were Illegal” by Gershom Gorenberg

    link to

    Much credit should go to Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg who discovered the first Meron memo. I don’t know if he was the one who discovered the second one, but he has been instrumental in letting the world know about their existence.

  3. Expect no comment or expression of support for this latest example of ethnic cleansing from any presidential candidate in the US.

  4. In the 1930s many people and their governments became inured to abuse of the Jews by the Nazis and did nothing to their everlasting shame. Fast forward to the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st and it’s deja vu all over again. Just change the names of the victims and the perpetrators. The morally bankrupt collaborators are mostly the same.

    It is interesting that that the drowning of three-year old Aylan Kurdi got global attention as it should have, but very few in the same audience know of the 18-month old child burned to death in Palestine allegedly by Israeli settlers who remain at large.

    • It’s not interesting at all. It’s base racism.

      How many other children have been washed ashore over the last few years?

  5. The enormity of the lawlessness of the occupation and home demolitions so openly done, and seemingly condoned by the United Nations for so many years, may be brewing a new social paradigm, more so for the disfranchised, the poor, the angry folks: lawlessness, brutality.

    • And what does it say about the moral stature of the perpetrators’ primary protector at the UN? What moral stature?

  6. I hope the 20+ Arab countries will get up and finally do something! This is ethnic cleansing and will start a serious misfortune and U.S. Will always be attached to Israels crimes. This has to stop! It’s disgusting this man is no different than hitler ! I don’t blame the guy. Please people help and do something these are innocent people who want to live on their holy land! Their land whether holy or not! It’s evil double standards much?

  7. It’s abundantly clear that there’s an established and pervasive ‘sense of things’ that involves driving the Palestinians out of Palestine by various repetitively applied techniques. The interesting question at this point is whether there’s a script, an explicit Generalplan that’s being followed.

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