Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine: Home Demolitions on the Rise
According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, an Israeli NGO, the Israeli government has demolished 28,000 Palestinian structures since the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967, resulting in the homelessness and suffering of untold numbers of people. There is little ambiguity about the morality of this form of ethnic cleansing, and even most Israeli legal scholars agree that it is in contravention of international law. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:
“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
The Occupation is approaching its 49th birthday, and over the years the international community has been sitting by and watching and occasionally issuing toothless condemnations of Israel’s behavior. There have been ebbs and flows in the rates of home demolitions, but the possibility of losing one’s home has nevertheless been a constant part of Palestinian life for generations now. In the year 2016, however, there has been a sharp and extremely disconcerting increase in the pace of demolitions, as the first few months have seen a three-fold increase in such activity. On one day alone two weeks ago, April 6, the Israeli army demolished 54 structures in nine communities in the West Bank, displacing 124 people, including 60 children.