Uprooting Palestinian Trees And Leveling Agricultural Land

 

January 16 – February 14, 2001

 

Introduction:

 This is the fifth special report by PCHR about Israeli leveling of land and demolishing of houses and civilian facilities by in the Gaza Strip, since the outbreak of clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces on September 29, 2000. This report is a continuation of the previous reports that covered the period of September 29, 2000 – January 15, 2001. The present report covers the period of January 16 – February 14, 2001 during which the Israeli occupation forces razed 732.5 donums. Approximately 717.5 donums of these were agricultural lands and approximately 15 donums of these were wooded land.

 During the period of September 29 – February 14, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces razed 7024 donums of land in the Gaza Strip. Approximately 5494 donums of these (78.2%) were agricultural lands and approximately 1530 donums of these (21.8%) were wooded and unplanted lands. During the period January 16- February 14, 2001, Israeli bulldozers also demolished nine Palestinian houses on the razed lands. This figure does not include the destruction of houses, civilian facilities, and agricultural facilities located on lands that were not razed. This increases the total number of Palestinian houses demolished by the Israeli occupation forces during the period of September 29, 2000 – February 14, 2001 to 94. 

 This Israeli destruction of Palestinian lands, homes, civilian facilities, and agricultural facilities is the implementation of the Israeli governmental policy of creating new and irreversible facts on the ground. The aim of the Israeli policy of the destruction of Palestinian land and property is the creation of irreversible new facts on the ground. Even assuming that Palestinians are able to replant their land, the uprooting of thousands of fruit-bearing and the destruction of greenhouses will cause losses to the Palestinian economy for several years to come since these form the foundation of the Palestinian agricultural sector. However, even this scenario is optimistic since there is real danger that Palestinian farmers may never regain these lands. Illegal Israeli settlements may well annex parts of these razed areas or, alternatively, they may be used for military posts, bypass roads, or security zones for the Israeli occupation forces. These actions are blatant violations of both individual and collective economic and social rights 

 The actions of the Israeli occupation forces in the occupied Palestinian territories are blatant violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949). Article 53 of the 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 co-operative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”  In addition, article 147 of the Convention states: “…extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity…” 

 Land razing and property destruction carried out largely by the Israeli occupation forces, constitute collective punishment, measures of intimidation and terrorism against civilians. All of these measures are prohibited by Article 33 of the Convention, which states: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” 

 These unjustifiable actions also contradict the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 1 of the Covenant states that “in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence,” and Article 5 denies “any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or freedoms recognized herein…” 

 PCHR condemns these illegal actions carried out by the Israeli occupation forces. PCHR reiterates its call on the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties (HCPs) to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to take practical deterrent measures against the Israeli military occupation authorities. PCHR also calls on these HCPs to activate Article 1 of the Convention, to ensure respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to put an end to frequent attacks on civilian residents’ property.

 PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately provide international protection for Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories as a basic step toward ending Israeli aggression against Palestinian lives and properties. 

 The following section of this report details the leveling and demolition carried out by the Israeli occupation forces during the period of January 16 – February 14, 2001. At the end of the report, there are two tables showing the tracts of land swept and houses demolished from September 29, 2000 to February 14, 2001. 

The full report is available PDF format.