Destruction of Property

Gaza, 2014In 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.

Articles, statements and press releases

24 February 2021 |

Yesterday, I visited the community of Humsa – Al Baqai’a which is situated some hundreds of metres into a firing zone in the Northern West Bank. In accordance with Israel’s domestic legal process, the homes and belongings of the families living there were demolished or confiscated five times by the Israeli authorities since the beginning of February. Tents, food, water tanks and fodder for their livestock have all been confiscated despite repeated calls by the international community for these actions to stop in accordance with international law. As we have noted previously, situations where communities are put under pressure to move raises a real risk of forcible transfer.

19 February 2021 |

Although no further demolitions or confiscations have occurred in Humsa - Al Bqai’a since the last update on 16 February, the community remains largely unprotected and the response limited. Due to the heavy military presence and fear of further confiscation/ interception, partners continue to deliver residential and animal shelter, fodder and WASH structures outside of the community itself, which is not always being accessed

5 February 2021 |

Statement by Sarah Muscroft, Head of OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territory, James Heenan, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory, and Lucia Elmi, UNICEF Special Representative in State of Palestine

8 December 2020 |
Home demolished in Beit Sira village (Ramallah) on 17 September 2020. Photo by OCHA

“On 17 November, I was driving to pick up my sister when I saw a big bulldozer, and I thought to myself that a demolition will probably take place in one of our neighboring communities”, recalled Radad Dagharme, from Al Farisyia herding community, in the northern Jordan Valley.

10 September 2020 |

Statement by Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick: The period from March to August 2020 saw the demolition or confiscation of 389 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, on average, 65 per month, the highest average destruction rate in four years.

23 October 2019 |
Palestinian man herding his livestock outside of Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar, Jordan Valley (3 October 2019).  ©  Photo by OCHA

Aziz, is a 25 years old Palestinian from Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar, a small Bedouin community in the northern Jordan Valley. Over the past six years, Aziz has experienced four demolitions by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). In February 2019, the ICA demolished seven structures belonging to Aziz, including the tents in which his family resides and shelters for his livestock. Rendered homeless, Aziz, his mother, brother and two sisters were forced to seek refuge in Tammum town (Tubas governorate) for a period of two weeks and leave his livestock behind, exposed to the harsh winter conditions.