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Uprooting Palestinian Trees And Leveling Agricultural Land

January 01 – March 31, 2002

 

Introduction

Since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada on 29 September 20002, Palestinian civilians in the OPT have been subject to grave breaches, including violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, by Israeli occupying forces. Israeli occupying forces and Jewish settlers have pursued military policies and field plans aimed at causing maximum damage to Palestinian civilian and their property.

Since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have waged a full scale aggression on the OPT, unprecedented since Israel first occupied the Palestinian Territories in June 1967. Israeli military operation aimed at suppressing the Intifada have included aerial bombardment using F-16 fighter jets and apatche gunships, bombardment using gunboats which fully control the Gaza Strip coasts, and land bombardment using tanks surrounding Palestinian communities, and surface-to-surface missiles fired from launchers positioned along the eastern border of the Gaza Strip. In addition to the kinds of weapons they used in the first Intifada, such as tear gas, sound bombs, rubber-coated metal bullets and live bullets, Israeli occupying forces have employed heavy weapons against Palestinians. In addition, Israeli occupying forces employed heavy armored bulldozers to demolish Palestinian houses and raze agricultural land.

Extensive Israeli military operations have targeted Palestinian residential areas, civilian facilities and the Palestinian National Authorities institutions, most of which are located in residential areas. Israeli occupying forces have destroyed many Palestinian houses, factories and workshops, and razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land.

The destruction of hundreds or even thousands of Palestinian civilian facilities, including houses, factories, workshops, agricultural land and animal and bird farms, has caused large financial losses, which have affected, and will likely affect the economic, social, civil and political rights of Palestinians. According to PCHR’s documentation, from the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada until 31 December 2001, Israeli occupying forces demolished 451 Palestinian houses, 400 completely and 51 partially, in the Gaza Strip. They also razed 13576 donums of land, about 11372 donums (84.3%) of which were agricultural lands, and about 2218 (15.7%) were wooded land. In addition, many other civilian facilities, such as schools, factories and hospitals, were destroyed.

Land leveling and property destruction carried out by the Israeli occupying forces violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a war crime under the convention and the protocols additional to the convention. PCHR calls upon the international community to take concrete steps to ensure Israel’s respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention in the OPT, especially as the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention asserted in their conferences in July 1999 and December 2001 that the Convention is applicable to the OPT and that Israel is legally obligated to respect it.

This is the 7th specialized report by PCHR on leveling of land and demolition of houses and civilian facilities by Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza Strip. It covers the period 1 January – 31 March 2002. The report is limited to land leveling and house demolition, and will not include hundreds of houses and civilian facilities that were shelled by Israeli tanks or warplanes.

During the period 1 January – 31 March 2002, Israeli occupying forces razed approximately 14,000 donums, of which about 11,782 donums (84.2%) were agricultural land, and about 2,218 donums (15.8%) were wooded land. The areas of agricultural land razed by the Israelis constitute about 7.5% of the total area of agricultural land in the Gaza strip (about 156,720 donums). This large scale destruction of agricultural land caused by the Israeli forces, has disastrous impacts on environment and the Palestinian economy, especially the agricultural sector. These Israeli actions violate Palestinian economic and social rights and have contributed to further deterioration of the Palestinian economy as hundreds of Palestinian farmers have lost their sources of income.

During the period of study, Israeli occupying forces completely demolished 150 Palestinian houses in the Gaza strip, in which 1,384 persons used to live. From the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada until 31 March 2002, Israeli occupying forces demolished 549 housed completely and 51 houses partially. Hundreds of Palestinian families in the Gaza strip have become homeless. Given that the average Palestinian family in the Gaza strip includes 9.2 persons, then approximately 5,050 persons have become homeless, in addition to hundreds of families which left their houses due to repeated Israeli shelling. Furthermore, Israeli occupying forces have demolished a number of educational institutions and industrial facilities.

 

The full report is available PDF format.