Uprooting Palestinian Trees And Leveling Agricultural Land
This is the fourth specialized report by PCHR on the razing of land and demolishing of houses and civilian facilities by the Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza Strip. These reports began with the outbreak of clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces on September 29, 2000. This report covers the period of December 19, 2000 – January 15, 2001, continuing our past two reports, which covered the period of September 29 – December 18, 2000.
During the period of September 29 – January 15, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces razed 6291.5 donums of land in the Gaza Strip, about 4776.5 donums (76%) of which were agricultural lands, and about 1515 donums (24%) were wooded and sandy areas. During the period of December 19, 2000 – January 15, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces razed 1835.5 donums of land, about 1240.5 donums (67.6%) of which were agricultural lands and 595 donums (32.4%) were wooded lands. These figures do not include houses and civilian and agricultural facilities established on these properties, which were also razed and demolished. Bulldozers of the Israeli occupation forces also demolished 85 Palestinian houses on razed areas during the period of September 29, 2000 – January 15, 2001, making their residents homeless.
What the Israeli occupation forces are doing in the occupied Palestinian territories against Palestinian land and property is an implementation of the policies of Israeli governments aimed at creating new facts on the ground that are irreversible. The uprooting of thousands of fruitful trees and the destruction of greenhouses, which are the bases of the Palestinian agricultural sector, will cause financial losses for several years in the future, if we assume that Palestinian civilians will be able to replant their land in the future. But, there is real danger these lands may never be regained by Palestinian farmers. Illegal Israeli settlements may well annex parts of these razed areas or they may be used for military posts, bypass roads, or security space for the Israeli occupation forces. These actions are blatant violations of 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.” Article 147 of the Convention prohibits: “…extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity…”
Land razing and property destruction carried out largely by the Israeli occupation forces, are part of a range of collective penalties and measures of intimidation and terrorism against civilians. All of this is 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.”
The razing has included about 6300 donums of agricultural and wooded land since the outbreak of clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces. During the same period, the Israeli occupation forces demolished 88 houses, destroyed civilian and agricultural facilities and uprooted thousands of fruit-bearing trees. It is expected that these forces will systematically continue these actions as they control 42% of the area of the Gaza Strip – out of a total of 365 square kilometers. This will lead to further deterioration of the economic and social rights of Palestinian civilians. The Israeli occupation forces aim at creating new facts on the ground as they have continued to reinforce their presence and to establish new military posts in the Gaza Strip.
PCHR condemns these illegal actions carried out by the Israeli occupation forces. PCHR reiterates its call for 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 its respect, 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 to stopping Israeli aggression against Palestinian lives and properties.
The following section of this report details the razing and demolition carried out by the Israeli occupation forces during the period of December 19, 2000 – January 15, 2001. At the end of the report, there are two tables showing the tracts of land razed and houses demolished from September 29, 2000 to January 15, 2001.
The full report is available PDF format.