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Summary of communications sent and replies received
from Governments and other actors
* The present document is being circulated in the language of submission only as it greatly exceeds the page limitations currently imposed by the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
** The present document is being circulated in the language of submission only as it greatly exceeds the page limitations currently imposed by the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
36. On 30 May 2006, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter concerning reported threats of eviction of the family of Mr. Muhammad Is’hac and Ms. Yousra Herbawi including their six children, one of whom is severely disabled. According to information received, the municipality of Jerusalem is preparing to evict this family, who has almost no income and fears being left destitute, and to demolish their house in the Abu Tour neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. Reportedly, the family built their home in 1989 and was ordered the following year to pay a fine (which they did) and to either get a building permit or have their home demolished. When the municipality finally issued a building plan for the area in 2004, the house reportedly did not meet the exact specifications, even though up to then the family had spent significant sums of money to prepare and present building plans to the municipality. Reportedly, on 30 April 2006, the Jerusalem municipal court requested at a hearing that the house be demolished, and that the family pay a fine of 30,000 shekels. The court’s decision was expected on 7 June 2006. Furthermore, reports indicate a broader pattern of forced evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Occupied Territories on the grounds that homes have been built without a permit. Allegedly, the Israeli authorities have pursued a policy of limiting new construction in the Palestinian neighbourhoods since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, obligating Palestinians to obtain a building permit from the Israeli army, which is almost impossible to obtain, if they want to build on their own land. Many are compelled to build without a permit having no other way to provide shelter for their families, only to then have their houses demolished. Allegedly, more than 2,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank have been demolished in the past 10 years, reports indicating an increase in the past year, in addition to an estimated 160 in East Jerusalem since 2004, leaving 500 individuals homeless, and 240 between 1999 and 2003. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has urged Israel “to cease the practices of … demolishing houses and carrying out arbitrary evictions” and “to take immediate steps to respect and implement the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing, of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem …” (E/C.12/1/Add.90).
37. On 19 October 2006, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, concerning the alleged intention of destroying an indigenous Bedouin village, al-Sira, in the Negev (Southern Israel). The report indicated that half of the 160,000 indigenous Bedouin people in the Negev live in seven Government-planned towns without secure land tenure or sufficient development opportunities. The remainder live in 45 villages, among which is al-Sira, that do not appear on the official maps of Israel, are unrecognized by the Government, and do not receive basic services. The al-Sira community, located near the Nevatim Air Force Base, includes 350 indigenous people in 50 houses. Allegedly, they have been living in the area for generations, which is apparently proven by a number of documents of land acquisition dating back to the Ottoman period and by remaining works of infrastructure. It is reported that after Israel adopted “The Negev Land Acquisition (Peace Treaty with Egypt) Law” in 1980, which allowed for the expropriation of the village lands for the purpose of establishing the Nevatim Air Force Base, Israeli authorities allegedly declared all of the village lands to be a military zone, although lying outside the base. Residents were reportedly neither informed nor consulted about this decision. Furthermore, the information received alleges that police officers and officials from the Ministry of the Interior have posted warning notices of imminent house demolitions, in practice meaning that all houses of the village are to be destroyed. Community members have reportedly made several attempts to find a negotiated solution with the authorities. It is reported that on 4 June 2006, they were told by the commander of the base that there is no plan to enlarge the base in the direction of the village. On 6 June 2006, a meeting was held with the construction inspector of the Ministry of the Interior, who promised to hold the demolition for three months but no alternate housing solution was proposed. Moreover, on 8 June and 7 July 2006, the Bedouin Authority held meetings with community members but no solution was proposed to the people facing eviction. It is further alleged that the Government hopes to resettle the indigenous community in the townships by demolishing their houses, considered illegal, and by not providing avenues for alternative legal construction within the village. Reportedly, the Minister of the Interior announced at the Parliament, on 30 May 2006, that during the past three years, authorities demolished 560 houses in the unrecognized villages. It is reported that those demolitions have rendered thousands of people homeless, who now live in overcrowded conditions with their relatives, while some have built shacks from scrap. It is alleged that, most often, demolitions take place in the early hours of the morning by squads of local police and Israeli Land Administration officials. The authorities, behaving violently and causing civilian injuries, drive families out of their homes under police order and destroy the houses with bulldozers.
38. On 30 October 2006, the Permanent Mission of Israel acknowledged receipt of the communication of 19 October 2006 and channelling it to the capital. The Special Rapporteur regrets that at the time of the finalization of this report, the Government had not transmitted any reply to any of his communications. The Special Rapporteur continues to monitor the situation with interest.