Destruction of Land and Property
The Israeli army has alarmingly intensified its policy of demolishing houses and leveling land during the al-Aqsa intifada which broke out in September 2000. Hundreds of houses have been demolished, rendering hundreds of families homeless. In the Gaza strip, Rafah refugee camp along the Israeli controlled border to Egypt has been particularly hard hit. Whole neighbourhoods have been demolished by Israeli bulldozers, often without previous warning to allow residents to save some of their properties from destruction. Palestinians living close to settlements have suffered the same fate. Many houses have been destroyed and large areas of agricultural land have been leveled or expropriated in order for the Israel to create buffer zones or build bypass roads allowing the settlers – living illegally in the area – to travel freely between the settlements and Israel.
Rafah refugee camp has been particular hard hit by house demolitions
Photo: PCHR fieldworker
Along with the massive destruction of private houses and fields, a large number of Palestinian National Authority (PNA) buildings and offices have been totally or partially demolished in attacks by F16 fighters and Apache helicopters. PNA security facilities have been targets of such military action; only one police station in Gaza City remains partly useable.
Both before, during and after the Israeli Operation Defensive Shield in April this year vandalism committed by the Israeli occupation army was common. Offices have been turned upside down for no apparent reason; money, computers and other assets were stolen.
The expropriation and destruction of land and private property is a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Furthermore, the UN Committee Against Torture has found that the Israeli government's house demolition policy "may, in certain instances, amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" in violation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has put together a collection of links on the subject "Destruction of Land and Private Property" in order to make it easier for the users of our web site to get an adequate impression of the Israeli destruction policy.
Relevant Articles in International Humanitarian Law
Fact Sheet: Housing and Agriculture
PCHR Reports, Press Releases and Interventions
Articles and Feature Stories from the International Media