Israel pushes Palestine home demolitions to secure annexation project

Palestinians have few options left as Israel steps up home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem
5 min read
01 August, 2019
Analysis: Israel launched home demolitions in Area A of the West Bank, crossing a new threshold in its war on the two-state solution. But the Palestinians response has been ineffective
The international organisation warned against consequences of such an Israeli move [AFP]
In a move widely condemned by Palestinians and international bodies, Israeli authorities on Monday launched a series of demolitions targeting Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces stormed the Wadi Alhummus area in the Sour Baher neighborhood, causing panic among women and children in the area, as they forced dozens of Palestinian residents out of their homes. The bulldozers then started knocking the buildings down.

"Israeli soldiers and police members broke into the residents homes and vandalised them, shouting at residents inside and ordering them to go out," said Ali Alobaidy, member of the Wadi Alhummus neighbourhood committee"Then, the bulldozers began demolishing the homes. Also, the forces put explosive devices into the 9-storey building of resident Mohammad Abu Tair, before they detonated it in front of the inhabitants," he added to Maan News Agency.

The Sur Baher suburb of East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank is located in an area where Israel had erected a separation barrier in the early 2000s.

Israel says the wall is crucial in preventing infiltration by Palestinian militants into Israeli settlement blocks, illegal under international law.

Palestinians say the wall is designed to enforce an apartheid-like system in the occupied territories and perpetuate the settlements and growing Israeli land grabs in areas that are supposed to be part of a future Palestinian state. 

Since it has erected the separation wall around east Jerusalem and cutting through the West Bank, Israel also established a 250 metre-deep no-man zone parallel to the wall.

Speaking of the demolitions, Israeli interior minister, Gilad Erdan, said the demolitions are necessary for security. 

But the Palestinian Authority contends that the majority of the homes that are being demolished are located in area A that belongs to the Palestinian Authority, based agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) following the Oslo Accords.

PLO said that it will now revise all past-signed agreements with Israel, in response to the demolitions.

"We would like to say it out loud to those who supported the recent Manama workshop for prosperity in the occupied Palestinian territories, just come and see how prosperous the Israelis want our Palestinian people to be", Saeb Ereqat, secretary of PLO's executive committee and the chief Palestinian negotiator, said satirically-in a televised speech-in reference to last June's US-sponsored Bahrain conference for economic prosperity in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Arab regime encouraging Israel

Talal Aukal, a Gaza-based political analyst, told The New Arab that the Palestinian response is so far ineffective and insufficient to force Israel to halt the demolitions.

"In fact, such a Palestinian stance of reconsidering past-signed agreements is not new. Such a stance has been repeated over the past several months, with no genuine steps taken on the ground," He said.

"I believe that the Palestinian Authority should first make sure the internal front is solidified by means of ending current the political split with the ruling Hamas party in Gaza and then reactivating some forms of popular resistance against the Israeli occupation", Aukal told The New Arab.

Read also: Israel just bulldozed two basic principles for peace

Meanwhile, current moves by some Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel are encouraging Tel Aviv to create new facts on the ground that would hamper any peaceful settlement with Palestinians, says Tayseer Mohaisen, another Gaza-based political analyst.

"As you might have seen, while a media delegation of Iraqi and Saudi journalists, has met with Israelis in Jerusalem, Israel has taken the criminal step of forcing Palestinians out. This is aimed at forcing Palestinians out from areas that Israel wants to keep as exclusive for Israelis," he told The New Arab.

"All Israeli security allegations for the demolitions, are false and baseless", Mohaisen added. 

United Nations sources suggest that about 350 Palestinians in the Sur Baher neighborhood of the occupied East Jerusalem, face the threat of being displaced

Threat of permanent displacement

United Nations sources suggest that about 350 Palestinians in the Sur Baher neighbourhood now face the threat of being permanently displaced, as Israel is set to go ahead with more demolitions in Wadi Alhummus.

The international organisation warned against consequences of such an Israeli move, calling on the Israeli government to halt it.

The European Union has also condemned the demolitions and believed that they would undermine chances for peace, based on a long-envisioned two-state solution.

For its part, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, of which the Palestinian Authority is  a member, condemned the Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes.

But last week, the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman said that "Israel has the right to annex some parts of the West Bank".

Five years ago, as Israeli settlements building in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem continued unabated, Palestinians halted peace talks with Israel, demanding an immediate end to those 'illegal' activities as a perquisite for peace making.

Israel labels the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, and increasingly sees the occupied territory as an exclusive Jewish land

Long-time Israeli occupation

Israeli forces seized the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in une 1967. The UN Security Council at the time demanded an immediate withdrawal from those territories by means of security council resolutions, 242 and 338.

In the 1970s, Israel launched settlement activities in those occupied territories. Israel labels the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, and increasingly sees the occupied territory as an exclusive Jewish land, with many politicians in Israel openly calling for its annexation without regard for millions of Palestinians who live there.

Back in 2005, Israel dismantled 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip and disengaged unilaterally from the coastal territory.

According to the Office of the European Union Representative in the occupied Palestinian territories, there are currently approximately 215,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem while the settler population in Area C in the occupied West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, is some 413,000.

This brings the settler population to approximately 630,000 Israeli settlers in 143 settlement locations in the West Bank (132) including East Jerusalem and 106 outposts, the Office of European Union Representative in the occupied territories, estimates.

Rami Almeghari is a Palestinian freelance journalist living and working in Gaza. 

Follow him on Twitter: @writeralmeghari