Thursday, February 22, 2024

UN experts say Israel should be held accountable for systematic demolition of Palestinian homes

A panel of United Nations experts has called on the international community to take action to stop systematic demolition of houses, arbitrary displacement and forced evictions of Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank.

Palestine’s official Wafa news agency cited the experts as making the plea in a statement on Monday, after media reports said the Israeli regime demolished 132 Palestinian structures across 38 communities in the occupied West Bank in January 2023, a 135-percent increase compared to the same period in 2022.

“The systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, erection of illegal Israeli settlements and systematic denial of building permits for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank amounts to ‘domicide’,” the statement added.

The experts reiterated their concern over the situation in Masafer Yatta area, where over 1,100 Palestinian residents remain at imminent risk of forced eviction, arbitrary displacement and demolitions of their homes, livelihood, water and sanitation structures.

“Direct attacks on the Palestinian people’s homes, schools, livelihoods and water sources are nothing but Israel’s attempts to curtail the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and to threaten their very existence,” the experts stated.

“Israel’s tactics of forcibly displacing and evicting the Palestinian population appear to have no limits. In occupied East al-Quds, tens of Palestinian families also face imminent risks of forced evictions and displacement, due to discriminatory zoning and planning regimes that favor Israeli settlement expansion – the act that is illegal under international law and amounts to a war crime,” they continued.

The experts also warned about the Israeli regime’s endorsement and escalated practice of punitive evictions and demolitions over alleged attacks by Palestinians against Israeli settlers, such as revoking identity documents, citizenship and residency rights and social security benefits.

“The rule of law must prevail in any action against acts of violence. The sealing of family homes of suspected offenders and the subsequent demolition of their homes is in fundamental disrespect of international human rights norms and the rule of law. Such acts amount to collective punishment which is strictly prohibited under international law,” the experts underscored.

“We regret that impunity prevails, in particular for human rights violations and potential war crimes committed by the occupying power. It is high time for international adjudication bodies to determine the nature of the Israeli occupation and seek justice and accountability for all crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory,” they underlined.

The Israeli regime occupied the West Bank, including East al-Quds, in a Western-backed war in 1967. Ever since, it has been dotting the territory with hundreds of settlements that house thousands of settlers. All the settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

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