UN human rights office urges Israel to halt mass demolition of Bedouin structures

Bedouin children wander away from their home in al-Hadidiya village in the West Bank, which is now within a closed military zone claimed by the Israeli army. Photo: IRIN/Phoebe Greenwood

24 September 2013 – The United Nations human rights office today urged Israeli authorities to halt the recent wave of demolitions of Bedouin structures, noting the destruction of this property violates international humanitarian law.

“These mass demolitions raise serious concerns about the prohibition on forced evictions under international human rights law, and Israel’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of Palestinians to adequate housing and freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family and home,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

In July, OHCHR urged Israel to reconsider a proposed law that would result in the demolition of up to 35 Bedouin villages, displacing as many as 40,000 members of these communities from their ancestral homes.

However, demolitions began on 19 August and have been carried out by Israeli authorities in at least six different locations, including East Jerusalem. Subsequently, on 11 September all but two residential structures in the Bedouin community of Az Za’ayyem on the edge of Jerusalem were demolished.

The latest wave of demolitions occurred on 16 September, when 58 structures were knocked down, including all residential structures and livestock shelters in the herding community of Mak-hul in the northern Jordan Valley.

According to OHCHR, all 10 families inhabiting the structures were rendered homeless and no alternative housing options were offered.

“Israeli authorities denied the provision of emergency shelter assistance to the community by humanitarian organizations,” Mr. Colville said. “The community remains vulnerable to further demolitions and repeated displacement due to lack of legal security of tenure and the consequent inability to obtain building permits.”

Mr. Colville added that the obligations of Israel with respect to the right of adequate housing of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory include ensuring access to basic shelter and housing, and refraining from interfering with the enjoyment of these rights.


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UN rights office voices concern over forced evictions of Palestinians in West Bank

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