In recent years, large numbers of civilian properties have been destroyed in the course of hostilities and military operations, mostly in the Gaza Strip. Properties have also been subject to demolition or confiscation as part of the Israeli-imposed planning and zoning regime in Area C and East Jerusalem parts of the West Bank, and to punitive demolition or sealing following attacks on Israelis. In some areas, properties are also destroyed by settlers, who engage in politically-motivated attacks and, for example, set agricultural land on fire, leading to reduced access to services, loss of income and more.
The destruction of property in an occupied territory is prohibited under international humanitarian law, unless absolutely necessary for military operations. Although the humanitarian response to such practices includes the delivery of shelters, these have also been often subject to demolition or confiscation.
OCHA monitors the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property in the West Bank through its online Demolition System. Official data on demolition orders in Area C is available here.
The high level of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians reported during the first four months of 2018 in an earlier Humanitarian Bulletin, continued through October as the annual olive harvest began. Since the start of 2018, OCHA has documented 217 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers that have resulted in Palestinian casualties (60 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (157 incidents). As a monthly average, this is the highest level of incidents recorded since 2014 and represents a 57 and 175 per cent increase compared with 2017 and 2016 respectively (see chart).
Recent developments have exacerbated the vulnerability of Palestinians living in, or dependent on access to, an area in eastern Nablus governorate designated in the 1970s as closed for Israeli military training: “Firing Zone 904A”. These developments have included military exercises involving temporary displacement, property damage, disruption to life and new access restrictions. In recent years this area has witnessed increasing settlement activities, including violence and intimidation, alongside a reduced Palestinian presence.
In recent months, the Israeli authorities have passed or advanced new legislation that will significantly limit the ability of individual and human rights organizations to challenge the demolition or seizure of Palestinian properties in Area C and East Jerusalem.
Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, the Head of West Bank Operations for UNRWA, Mr. Scott Anderson, and the Head of the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. James Heenan, expressed serious concern over demolitions and related events in vulnerable Palestinian communities in the central West Bank
Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, and the UNRWA Director of Operations in the West Bank, Mr. Scott Anderson, join others in the international community in calling on the Government of Israel to cease its plans to carry out the mass demolition and transfer of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar – Abu al Helu
Humanitarian agencies operating in the Gaza Strip warned today that a prolonged closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s almost exclusive point for the entry of goods, may exacerbate the already dire situation of services and livelihoods.