Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sharp rise in Palestinian home demolitions

Nayaf Oweida and his family once had a place to call home. Like many Palestinians whose homes were demolished by Israel, the Oweida family now lives in a small tent next to the rubble their home once stood.

A report conducted by the Israeli organization B'tselem reveals demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel's Civil Commission tripled in 2010 in the occupied West Bank. Last year, 472 Palestinians including 223 minors lost their homes. In 2009, 217 Palestinians, along with 60 minors were victims of home demolitions. Palestinians say the dramatic rise of Palestinian homes razed in 2010 is attributed to the increasing pressure by Jewish settlers seeking to preserve land in the Occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem, al Quds in order to create a Jewish majority.

In addition, Seventy-eight structures in East Jerusalem, including 24 homes, were demolished by the Israeli authorities in 2010, according to the UN.

But it is the aftermath of the demolitions that affects the Palestinians enormously. Hundreds of Palestinians in both the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, al-Quds are left homeless, displaced and hopeless.

In East Jerusalem al-Quds, the United Nations and European Union officials are calling for implementation of international humanitarian laws to protect the Palestinian population from forced displacement.

Since the start of 2011, Israeli authorities demolished five Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem because they did not have Israeli-issued building permits.

Because of inadequate zoning and planning for Palestinians obtaining a building permit from the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem is nearly impossible.

Oweida knows how difficult it is for Israel to grant him a permit to rebuild his home, but says he and his family can only live in a tent for so long.

As Israeli continues to violate the fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian laws, there are at least 1,500 pending demolition orders in East Jerusalem that potentially may leave thousands of Palestinians displaced and homeless.

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