Palestinians Eight Times More Likely to Face Home Demolition Than Settlers

The demolitions are carried out in accordance with a draconian order that requires residents to present a building permit within 96 hours, and cannot be appealed

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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A boy stands next to ruins of a structure in Humsa al-Bakia villlage in the West Bank, in 2020.
A boy stands next to ruins of a structure in Humsa al-Bakia villlage in the West Bank, in 2020.Credit: Maged Gozani
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Israel carried out eight times as many demolition orders in the West Bank against new structures built by Palestinians compared to settlers between May 2019 and the end of 2021.

During that period, the Civil Administration – Israel's governing body in the West Bank – issued removal orders against 285 new Palestinian structures and razed 200. For settlers, by contrast, these figures were 84 and 25, respectively. The figures were furnished to Lawmaker Gaby Lasky (Meretz) in response to a parliamentary question she submitted to Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The Civil Administration did not comment.

The demolition orders were issued in accordance with the Removal of New Structures Order, which took effect in 2019 and was upheld by the High Court of Justice. It requires residents to present a building permit within 96 hours, after which Civil Administration inspectors are permitted to demolish the structure without holding a hearing.

Since building permits are rarely issued for Palestinians in area C of the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords are under exclusive Israeli control, they are far more likely to be victims of demolitions.

The order has attracted harsh criticism from both Palestinians and Jews, because unlike ordinary demolition orders, it provides a brief time frame until the demolition is carried out, and eliminates the hearing and appeal process entirely.

The Civil Administration also gave Lasky data on the number of movable structures that Israel confiscated in Areas C, including mobile homes and other structures whose transportation within the West Bank requires a permit.

Between 2017-2021, four times as many movable structures were confiscated from Palestinians (3,201) than from settlers (736).

“The figures show, right there in black-and-white, that there is excess enforcement against Palestinians. This is a systematic attempt to dispossess the Palestinian population and push it out of Area C, while almost completely ignoring the establishment of illegal outposts and building violations in settlements,” Lasky told Haaretz.

The data reveals an example of Israeli policy in the territories that “promotes in practice the settlement enterprise, harms the two-state solution and is in violation of international law,” she added.

After the Removal of New Structures Order was signed in 2018, the Haqel, Bimkom and Society of St. Yves advocacy organizations filed a High Court of Justice petition against it on behalf of 13 Palestinian council heads. The petitioners argued that the order would be implemented in a discriminatory manner against Palestinians.

Justices David Mintz, Isaac Amit and Alex Stein denied the petition.

“The data nonetheless prove the correctness of the petitioners’ claims that the purpose of the order is political and in the future it could fall mostly on Palestinian structures,” said Kamar Mishraki-Asad, the lawyer who filed the petition against the order.

Almost all of the Palestinian communities in area C do not have a master plan, while in others the plans to expand the community have not been approved. Master plans and many expansions are promoted in settlements.

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