Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2011

Right to adequate housing - forced eviction

Palestinians living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, faced such tight restrictions on what they could build that their right to adequate housing was violated. Forced evictions were carried out in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, on the grounds that the houses had been built without permits; such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain from the Israeli authorities. Demolition crews, accompanied by security officials, generally arrived without notice and gave families little opportunity to remove their possessions. Under Israeli military law, applied to Palestinians in most of the West Bank, there is no requirement for evicted families to be re-housed or compensated. Palestinians in East Jerusalem fared little better under the Israeli civil authorities. In 2010, Israeli authorities demolished 431 structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a 59 per cent increase over 2009. At least 594 Palestinians - half of them children - were displaced after their homes were demolished by order of the Israeli authorities, while more than 14,000 Palestinians were affected by demolitions of water cisterns, wells and structures relating to their livelihoods.

  • Israeli forces twice demolished homes and structures in Khirbet Tana, a West Bank village just west of the Jordan Valley in an area declared a "closed military zone". On 10 January, they demolished the homes of 100 residents, the village school and 12 animal pens; and on 8 December, they demolished 10 homes, 17 animal shelters and the rebuilt school. The village had previously been demolished in 2005. Village residents have been denied building permits by the Israeli authorities since the 1970s, while the nearby settlements of Mekhora and Itamar have been established.

Inside Israel there was a marked increase in the demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev (or Naqab) area in the south. Dozens of villages, home to tens of thousands of Bedouin who are Israeli citizens, are not formally recognized by the Israeli authorities. These villages lack basic services, and residents are under constant threat of destruction of their homes and eviction from the land.

  • The "unrecognized" Negev village of al-'Araqib, home to around 250 Bedouin, was destroyed eight times between 27 July and 23 December by the Israel Land Administration and police forces. After each demolition, villagers rebuilt makeshift shelters.

Excessive use of force

Israeli security forces used excessive force against Palestinian civilians, including non-violent demonstrators in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as farmers, fishermen and others working in the Israeli-declared "exclusion zone" inside Gaza or its coastal waters. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 33 Palestinian civilians in the OPT, including eight children, were killed by Israeli military forces during 2010. Fifteen Palestinian civilians, including four children, were killed and more than 100 injured by Israeli forces enforcing the 1,500m-wide "exclusion zone" inside Gaza's northern and eastern borders and the maritime restrictions.