In breach of The Hague regulation prohibiting an occupying power from altering the legal system in an occupied territory, Israel facilitates the violation of Palestinian individual and collective land rights by imposing its discriminatory domestic laws. The World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund manage this process by transferring the assets of the dispossessed Palestinians to those considered as “Jewish nationals”; military operations have complemented it.
Within a few days of May 2004 alone, “Operation Rainbow” demolished 576 homes in Rafah, making 3,800 Palestinians homeless. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights’ documentation, the period since the Commission’s 60th session witnessed the Israel’s most serious breaches of Palestinians’ rights to adequate housing and land, in spite of the wide international condemnation.
On 19 May 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution SC1544, calling upon Israel to cease demolition of Palestinian homes and to “respect its obligations under international humanitarian law.” However, home demolitions continued, accompanied with escalated restrictions on movement and closures, which has incurred serious increase in the rates of poverty and unemployment.
From the destructions using Caterpillar bulldozers to demolition by explosives and arbitrary shelling, the techniques vary, but all are used as measures of collective punishment. The IOF also continued to isolate residential areas in the pretext of securing the expanding Jewish colonies. In numerous occasions, it prohibited civilians’ movement and access to basic services outside these areas.
Moreover, IOF incursions have damaged or destroyed physical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water and electricity lines, as well as sewage, sanitation and educational facilities. In the West Bank, it continued the illegal construction of its 650-km separation wall rendering over 70 communities isolated, and leveling thousands of dunums of productive agricultural land, what all incursions imply as well.
Palestinian and Israeli organizations made significant efforts to prevent the above mentioned violations through contacts with military bodies, or by approaching the Israeli High Court, but in vain, and in spite of the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion. Both post-WWII Military Tribunals and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court treat unnecessary destruction and appropriation of property, population transfer and implantation of settlers as crimes of war and crimes against humanity.
HIC and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights endorse the statement of the UN Rapporteur on adequate housing, recognizing the “strong need for an end to the occupation and for the immediate deployment of an international protection force in the region.” The international community and the members of the Commission bear a responsibility under the principle of international cooperation to remedy these violations. Failure to do so perpetuates hostility in the region, and destroys faith in the entire system of international law and legitimacy among the wider public. Also, we urge this Commission to take effective measures, including military and economic sanctions as appropriate.