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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
26 January 2012


1. The forced displacement of Palestinian families and the destruction of civilian homes and other property by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have a serious humanitarian impact. Demolitions deprive people of their homes, often their main source of physical and economic security. They also disrupt their livelihoods, reducing their standard of living and undermining their access to basic services, such as water and sanitation, education and health care.

2. The impact on families’ psychosocial well-being can be devastating. Women often feel a loss of control over domestic matters and a heightened sense of insecurity while men experience increased stress and anxiety. For many children, the demolition, along with the disruption to education and increased tension in the home, results in depression, anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

3. According to Israeli authorities, demolitions are carried out because structures lack the required building permits. In reality, it is almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits. The zoning and planning regime enforced by Israel in Area C and East Jerusalem restricts Palestinian growth and development, while providing preferential treatment for unlawful Israeli settlements. This treatment includes the approval of master plans and the provision of essential infrastructure, participation in the planning process, and the allocation of land and water resources.

4. In Area C, a combination of Israeli policies and practices, including restrictive zoning and planning, settlement expansion, settler violence, and restrictions on movement and access, have resulted in fragmentation of land and shrinking space for Palestinians, undermining their presence. Israeli authorities have also indicated that they intend to transfer several Palestinian communities out of strategic parts of Area C, raising further humanitarian and legal concerns.

5. Israel, as the occupying power in the West Bank, has the obligation to protect Palestinian civilians and to administer the territory for their benefit. International law prohibits the forced displacement or transfer of civilians as well as the destruction of private property, unless absolutely necessary for military operations. Demolitions of homes and other civilian structures should end immediately and Palestinians should have access to fair and effective zoning and planning for their communities.

* A number of additional self-demolitions are currently being verified.

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