Tuesday June 18, 2013
Internationals, Palestinians and Israelis Rebuild Palestinian Home for Fifth TimeSalem-News.com
Special Edition: News From Beit Arabiya.
(TEL AVIV) - The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions launched its tenth annual Rebuilding Camp this morning. More than 30 volunteers from around the world joined Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank town of Anata to rebuild a Palestinian home demolished five times by Israel.
The home belonging to Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh and their seven children (known as Beit Arabiya), located in the West Bank town of Anata, north-east of Jerusalem (Area C), has been demolished by Israeli authorities five times since 1998. The family applied three times to the Israeli Civil Administration for a building permit and was refused each time, as were 94% of Palestinian permit applications since 1993. Having no other alternative, they proceeded, as have thousands of other Palestinian families, to build their home, in which they lived for five years despite having been issued a demolition order. In July 1998, Israeli authorities demolished the home for the first time. Subsequently, the home was rebuilt and demolished four more times, with the last demolition occurring on January 23rd 2012.
Last week (Wednesday, June 27th) the United Nations Human Rights Council received the annual report of Prof. Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT. Falk highlighted the disturbing case of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, and stated it was “illustrative of a common Palestinian complaint that their property rights are indirectly usurped through the denial of formal permits and the subsequent issuance and execution of demolition orders. While it will be rebuilt once again next month, the family will live under the threat of having its home demolished at any moment. The ever-present threat of Israeli bulldozers perverts the sense of normalcy so essential for raising children.”
Every year hundreds of Palestinians are forced from their homes, homes built on land they own. Since 1967 Israel has demolished more than 26,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Israel’s policy of house demolitions and evictions is illegal under international law, and is politically motivated; its purpose is to disenfranchise entire Palestinian communities and expropriate their land.
Within the next two weeks (July 1st through 15th 2012) volunteers will rebuild Beit Arabiya, from foundation to roof, and during a dedication ceremony the keys will be handed over to the Shawamreh family. At the end of the camp, international participants return home as advocates for peace, carrying ICAHD’s vision of a just and sustainable resolution for both peoples.
Following a visit to Beit Arabiya after its last demolition, Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the OPT, called for an immediate end to Israel’s policy of home demolitions. “Israel as the Occupying Power has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and wellbeing. The current policy and practice of demolitions cause extensive human suffering and should end.” Following his visit, Mr Gaylard also commended the work undertaken by ICAHD and partners to support Palestinian families in distress, and expressed serious concern about the repeated destruction of homes supported by ICAHD.
ICAHD has rebuilt a total of 185 Palestinian homes demolished by Israel and is determined to see this cruel policy stop. ICAHD co-founder and Director, Dr. Jeff Halper calls the rebuilding "An overtly political act of defiance. By rebuilding, we set alternative facts on the ground."
Help get the word out! You can also take part in the Rebuilding Camp by informing other organizations and individuals of this activity and helping us publicize our weekly reports from the camp on the internet. There will be a live-streaming video from the camp online on the ICAHD website beginning July 2nd.
Human Rights Council Receives Report on Beit Arabiya Demolition
UN Human Rights Council received a report on the recurrent demolition of Beit Arabiya, the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh and their seven children in the West Bank town of Anata, illuminating the ongoing displacement of Palestinians living under prolonged occupation.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) will convened last month in Geneva, for its twentieth session. The Council received the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, Prof. Richard Falk.
The report provides the Council with ample information on the plight of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, whose home in the West Bank town of Anata (Area C, Occupied Palestinian Territory) was demolished for five times since 1998, and on illegal Israeli practices and the work of ICAHD to counter those. “While in Amman, the Special Rapporteur’s delegation met with the leaders of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, a widely respected NGO that has opposed these demolitions as unlawful instances of collective punishment and violations of Palestinian property rights. Also participating in the meeting was a Palestinian resident of the West Bank, Salim Shawamreh, who has had his house demolished on five separate occasions on the grounds that he lacked the proper construction permit, which he had dutifully applied for on numerous occasions without gaining Israel’s permission to build. His case is illustrative of a common Palestinian complaint that their property rights are indirectly usurped through the denial of formal permits and the subsequent issuance and execution of demolition orders, which are often executed in the middle of the night with no advance notice to the inhabitants. For instance, in the case of Mr. Shawamreh, he was given 15 minutes to remove any family belongings or furniture. […] For Palestinians living under occupation in the occupied Palestinian territory, the consequences of this policy of displacement are severe.”
Special Rapporteur Falk carried on reiterating the findings of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing: “[…] the actions by Israel of dispossession in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank (as well as towards the Palestinian citizens of Israel itself) amount to a strategy of Judaization. She found that the Israeli authorities promote a territorial development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities, particularly affecting Palestinian communities, and that such exclusion exists side by side with the accelerated development of Jewish settlements. The Special Rapporteur expanded upon her comment, concluding that as a whole, it is clear that Israeli policies and practices for the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem and the West Bank violate international human rights and humanitarian law.”
The report concludes that the Israeli military occupation that has continued for 45 years requires a special legal regime that takes account of long-term occupation and recommends to the Human Rights Council that “In view of the persistence of occupation for nearly half a century, with no end in sight, the Human Rights Council should commission a study of the adequacy of international humanitarian law to cover the situations caused by prolonged occupation and provide Israel and the international community with appropriate recommendations.”
Later today (Monday July 2nd), ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain and ICAHD USA Director Salena Tramel will appear before the Council to address illegal Israeli policies and practices, and the impact of prolonged occupation. ICAHD will call the Council to reflect on the legality of a prolonged Israeli occupation, which has outlived the armed conflict that spawned it by 45 years, and with no time limit in sight, and explore the possibility that prolonged and indefinite occupation has morphed into a new type of crime against humanity.
Moreover, ICAHD will ask the Council to recommend to the UN General Assembly to seek an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the legality of Israeli practices arising from prolonged occupation, and legality of prolonged occupation in and of itself. ICAHD firmly holds that the UN General Assembly should call for an ICJ Advisory Opinion that establishes a new normative paradigm of prolonged occupation; reinforces the alienable human rights of the Palestinian people to development and self-determination; and depicts the scope and magnitude of Israel's illegal policies and practices in the OPT, beyond what are IHL breaches and what was referred to in the 2004 Advisory Opinion; and upholds the legal obligations of all states and international organizations to cooperate to end Israel's breaches, and prolonged occupation.
Members of the UN led Protection Cluster held their monthly meeting in Beit Arabiya (Thursday, June 28th), in a demonstration of solidarity with the ICAHD Rebuilding Camp. Participants were greeted and briefed by Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, and expressed their heartfelt support of the family.
The Protection Cluster covers a wide range of activities that are aimed at ensuring respect for the rights of Palestinian. This requires a collaborative and coordinated response by various UN agencies, national and international actors with diverse mandates, expertise and experience. ICAHD is a long-standing, active member of the Protection Cluster.
The Jordan Valley, long coveted by Israel for its economic potential, and not the least for its strategic development importance in forestalling a viable Palestinian State, continued to endure a policy of displacement, depopulation of Palestinian residents and illegal settlement expansion, with the first six months of 2012 setting an all-time high.
All recorded demolitions raise suspicions of having been carried out in defiance of international law, and together likely constitute a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to which Israel is a signatory, and which constitutes customary international law.
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