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PRESS RELEASE

Released @ 09.00 hours GMT 29th May 1997

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      In breach of a ruling by the Palestinian High Court of Justice, the Gaza Municipality has demolished several homes in Gaza City

In a serious development which threatens to undermine the rule of law and authority of the highest Palestinian court, the Gaza City municipality has violated an order given by the Palestinian High Court of Justice to stop the demolition of a number of houses in the city.

Nine citizens from the Kassab family, living at Daraj Al Manshiya neighbourhood in Gaza City went to the High Court, (sitting as the High Court of Justice), seeking a ruling to suspend or stop the demolition of their houses by the Gaza municipality. On Sunday May 4th the Court ordered the Gaza municipality to suspend the demolition order until a further ruling was taken on the matter by the Court. However on 22nd May three bulldozers from the Gaza municipality, accompanied by Palestinian security forces, demolished the houses in violation of the ruling of the Court.

The Palestinian Centre has been following this case and would like to clarify the following:

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      1. The houses were demolished illegally and without following due process according to Palestinian law.

      2. The disregard for the Court’s decision and authority, undermines the Palestinian judiciary and weakens the rule of law and respect for the courts’ decisions. The Centre believes that to cross the constitutional safeguard of respect for the highest national judicial authority is dangerous.

      3. The citizens whose houses were destroyed should not be punished for opposing the actions of the municipality, as they were acting in support of the highest national judicial authority which the municipality was violating.

The PCHR calls upon the Palestinian National Authority to intervene in order to:

– provide housing for the families whose homes were demolished;

– oblige the Gaza municipality to fairly compensate these families for the illegal demolition of their homes; and to

– investigate the actions of the municipality and to hold accountable those responsible for violating the ruling of the Palestinian High Court of Justice.