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

11 October 2017 |
Jubbet adh Dhib, 2017

The targeting of key service infrastructure in already vulnerable communities in Area C in recent months has exacerbated the coercive environment and places residents at risk of forcible transfer. In August, on the eve of the new school year, the Israeli authorities requisitioned nine educational-related structures serving 170 children in three such communities.

11 September 2017 |
Khader’s family, in their caravan which they have lived in since October 2014, Beit Hanoun, August 2017. © Photo by OCHA

The hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups from 8 July to 26 August 2014 were the most devastating in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israeli occupation in 1967. They resulted in the deaths of 2,251 Palestinians, including at least 1,462 civilians, and 71 Israelis, of whom five were civilians. Over 11,000 Palestinians were injured, including hundreds of people left with a long-term disability, and huge numbers of the population, particularly children, were traumatized.

11 September 2017 |
84-year-old Ayoub Shamasneh, on the day he and his family were evicted, 5 August 2017. © Photo by OCHA.

Recent developments in East Jerusalem highlight the coercive environment affecting many Palestinian residents of the city. Four recently-advanced settlement plans in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood threaten with eviction over 70 Palestinian residents.

13 April 2017 |
Punitive demolition in al Mukabbir of the family house of Bahaa’ E’lian, one of the perpetrators of 13 October 2015 attack. Photo by OCHA, January 2016.

Following a rise in Palestinian attacks since October 2015, and citing the need for deterrence and prevention, the Israeli authorities have implemented measures that penalize Palestinians for acts that they did not commit and for which they are not criminally responsible. These measures include the destruction of the family homes of Palestinians who carried out an attack or are suspected of carrying out or planning attacks, and the closure of localities where some of these suspects lived. These practices raise concerns about collective punishment, which is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

11 March 2017 |
Salem from Jabal al Baba between the rubble of his demolished house , January 2017. © Photo by OCHA

Since the beginning of 2017, a number of developments have generated additional pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities located within and around the area designated by the Israeli authorities for the E1 settlement plan and the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim settlement in eastern Jerusalem governorate. The 18 communities in this area belong to a larger group of 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank, which the Israeli authorities seek to “relocate” to three designated sites.

22 February 2017 |
The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, in Khan al Ahmar, 22 February 2017

On 22 February, the Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, and Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, visited the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar in Area C, in the immediate outskirts of East Jerusalem.