Israeli court ‘enables, validates’ Palestinian home demolitions

Israel’s Supreme Court has been enabling the state to ‘cement occupation’ in occupied West Bank, a new report reveals.

Demolition of house in the West Bank
The report details how the state's policy minimises Palestinian construction and aims to expand the building of illegal settlements [File: EPA]

Israel‘s top court enables and validates the disposition of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes in the occupied West Bank, a new report has found.

According to the report, which was released on Wednesday by Israeli rights group B’tselem, Israel’s Supreme Court has been enabling the state to continue implementing illegal policies while ignoring the defects in Israel’s “planning policy” in the West Bank.

The report, “Fake Justice”, details how the state’s policy minimises Palestinian construction and aims to expand the building of illegal Jewish settlements.

“When, faced with no other option, Palestinians are forced to build without permits, the structures are deemed ‘unlawful’ and Israel issues demolition orders,” B’Tselem said.

The report is based on careful examination of hundreds of Supreme Court cases, judgments and decisions regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

According to B’Tselem, in none of these cases did the judges accept the arguments of the Palestinian petitioners who attempted to overturn demolition orders.

B’Tselem figures from 2006 through to 2018 reveal Israel demolished at least 1,401 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank alone, leaving more than 6,000 people without a home.

“The fact that the judges choose, time and again, to approve and validate Israel’s policy, played a pivotal role in further cementing the occupation and the settlement enterprise and in dispossessing Palestinians of their land,” Yael Stein, a B’Tselem researcher and author of the report, told Al Jazeera.

‘Blanket prohibition’

Last year, the Israeli high court rejected petitions against the demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, located in the West Bank, a few kilometres from Jerusalem.

That decision “accurately reflects” how Israel has framed its policy regarding Palestinian construction in the West Bank for years, the report noted.

Khan al-Ahmar has captured international attention for its years-long legal battle with Israeli authorities over its survival.

Israeli authorities gave residents a deadline to dismantle their homes after the demolition was given a green light by an Israeli court in September 2018 under the pretext that it had been built without a permit.

But Palestinians say building permits are impossible to obtain, in contrast to the rapid expansion of Jewish-only Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

The village’s location between two major Israeli settlements, Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, has been a thorn in the side of the Israeli government, which wants to expand the two in order to build a ring of settlements around occupied East Jerusalem.

Khan al-Ahmar’s destruction, now on hold, would also enable the Israeli government to effectively bisect the West Bank.

“Time and time again, the justices have ignored the intent underlying the Israeli policy and the fact that, in practice, this policy imposes a virtually blanket prohibition on Palestinian construction,” the report said.

Source: Al Jazeera