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Israel/OPT: Demolition of homes by Israeli forces a 'violation of international law'

Responding to news reports today that Israeli forces are carrying out the demolition of up to 16 residential buildings in the neighbourhood of Wadi al-Hummus in the village of Sur Baher in the occupied West Bank, Saleh Higazi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International, said:

“These demolitions are a flagrant violation of international law and part of a systematic pattern by the Israeli authorities’ to forcibly displace Palestinians in the occupied territories; such actions amount to war crimes.

“Israel has attempted to justify these demolitions under the guise of security by claiming the homes are too close to the wall/fence, but this does not stand up to scrutiny. The truth is that for decades Israel’s authorities have taken arbitrary and disproportionate measures in the name of security to expand their control over Palestinian land and push Palestinians out of areas they consider strategic, forcibly displacing entire communities and unlawfully destroying tens of thousands of homes.

“Israel must immediately end its cruel and discriminatory policy of home demolitions and forced displacement. Instead of destroying families’ homes Israel must dismantle parts of the fence/wall built inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in parts of Sur Baher, in violation of international law.

“Other states have a responsibility to pressure the Israeli authorities to adhere to their duties under international humanitarian law and ensure protection for the occupied Palestinian population.”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over the past 10 years Israel has demolished more than 1,100 structures in occupied East Jerusalem, displacing more than 2,000 people and impacting the lives of more than 6,000 people. Between 2 January and 17 July this year, Israel has destroyed 126 structures in East Jerusalem, displacing 203 people and affecting 1,036 people.

Unlawful transfer of civilians in occupied territory violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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