House Demolition

According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), 27,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the 1967 War, not including the destruction during the Gaza wars. A "structure" may be one family’s house, an apartment building that is home to multiple families, a factory, livestock pen, etc. Nearly half of those demolitions have taken place since the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000. The Israeli army and government cite security and the lack of building permits as their justification for demolishing homes. On the security front, the Israeli Army claims that it has demolished Palestinian houses (also factories and shops) either to prevent their use by Palestinians in attacks against Israelis, or as a punitive/deterrent measure against families from which a member is suspected of planning or carrying out attacks against Israelis. Israel abandoned the practice of punitive home demolition in 2005, but re-instituted it in 2014. In Rafah, Gaza Strip, 2,500 homes were destroyed in the border area with Egypt between 2000-2004. Israel says that the houses were concealing openings to smuggling tunnels, however, in the Human Rights Watch 2004 report "Razing Rafah," a pattern is described of razing entire blocks of homes in order to create a "buffer zone." Amnesty International called these home demolitions a form of collective punishment. Most of the Palestinian homes destroyed in East Jerusalem, certain parts of the West Bank and in Palestinian cities and towns within Israel are destroyed because they lack a building permit from the Israeli authorities. Building permits, however, are extremely difficult and at times impossible for Palestinians to obtain. The Israeli Army has on occasion also demolished structures constructed by Jewish Israeli settlers who did not obtain building permits, though these instances are much less frequent. See "Separate and Unequal," Human Rights Watch, December 19, 2010; and "Razing Rafah," Human Rights Watch, October 18, 2004. See also ICAHD’s website. See also the infographic "A Police of Displacement: Home Demolitions in the West Bank and Gaza," Visualizing Palestine.

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