Freezing House Demolitions in the West Bank
Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, ACRI sent three appeals to Central Command requesting they freeze the implementation of all demolition and confiscation orders on Palestinian homes in the West Bank until the Coronavirus crisis subsides. In the letters, ACRI Atty. Roni Pelli states “attempting to prevent the spread of the Corona pandemic has led to various orders and guidelines, including significant restrictions on the routine life of West Bank residents. Among other measures, families and children have been confined to their homes. The demolition policy is unbearable during the norm, but these days, when the globe is struggling with a plague and one’s home is his or her only refuge, the demolition policy puts the public’s well-being at risk. Under these circumstances, and with limited access to authorities and courts, the demolition of homes is an unreasonable and disproportionate measure.” Israeli Civil Administration responded on April 4th to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel that due to the Coronavirus crisis, they will not demolish residential buildings in the West Bank during this time, and demolition orders will be frozen. The freeze will not apply to new buildings built during this time. In the response, the Civil Administration stated that in the last month they demolished humanitarian infrastructures such as a water tank and solar panels.
Below are two of these appeals to Central Command.
The Civil Administration's response is included in the link below.
March 18, 2020
Major General Nadav Padan
GOC Central Command
By email: email@example.com
Re.: Freezing House Demolitions in the West Bank
We are contacting you against the backdrop of the emergency situation currently facing Israel and the West Bank due to the Corona pandemic and the spreading of the virus.
The attempt to prevent the spread of the Corona pandemic has led to the publication of various orders and guidelines, and to the imposition of significant restrictions on routine life in the West Bank. Families and children have been confined to their homes; the work of many public bodies has been restricted, including public reception at the Civil Administration; and the courts in Israel are operating on a limited basis, confined solely to urgent matters.
The home demolition policy is unbearable even in normal times. Now, however, when the entire world is fighting against the pandemic, and people’s homes have become their only refuge, this policy constitutes a real threat to public wellbeing. In these circumstances, and at a time when access to the authorities and the courts is limited, home demolitions constitute an unreasonable and disproportionate measure.
Responsibility for the health of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, and particularly in Area C, rests with Israel in accordance with The Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel must do everything possible to protect the health of Palestinians. When people are being asked to stay in their homes due to considerations of public health, home demolitions are a real health risk.
Accordingly, we ask to issue an urgent instruction to all the enforcement bodies to freeze demolition and confiscation measures, as well as all inspection measures, until the danger has passed.
With wishes for good health for all,
Roni Pelli, Atty.
CC: Head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General Ghassan Alian
Legal Advisor for the West Bank, Colonel Asim Hamad
ACRI's appeal, March 23, 2020