Uprooting Palestinian Trees And Leveling Agricultural Land
November 22, 2000 – December 18, 2000
The human rights violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian civilians are not limited to willful killing and shelling Palestinian cities and residential neighborhoods. The violations are also not limited to implementing measures of collective punishment through imposing a total siege on the occupied Palestinian territories and isolating Palestinian cities and areas from one another. In addition, the Israeli occupation forces are sweeping large areas of Palestinian agricultural and wooded land, and destroying houses and civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip, in both the areas under the control of these forces and the areas under the control of the Palestinian National Authority, especially in those areas adjacent to military posts of the Israeli occupation forces, on the sides of roads used by these forces, near border areas and in the vicinity of settlements and the roads leading to them.
This is the third specialized report by PCHR on sweeping of land and demolishing of houses and civilian facilities by the Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza Strip, since the outbreak of clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces on September 29, 2000. This report covers the period of November 22 – December 18, 2000, continuing our past two reports which covered the period of September 29 – November 21, 2000.
During the period of September 29 – December 18, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces swept 4456 donums of land in the Gaza Strip, about 3520 donums (79%) of which were agricultural lands, and about 920 donums (21%) were wooded and sandy lands. During the period of November 22 – December 18, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces swept 1617.5 donums of land, about 1545 donums (96%) of which were agricultural lands and 72.5 donums (4%) were wooded lands. These figures do not include the areas of houses and civilian and agricultural facilities established outside these areas, which were also swept and demolished.
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 aiming 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, even 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 swept 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 states: “…extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity…”
Land sweeping and property destruction carried out largely by the Israeli occupation forces are among the scope of collective penalties and measures of intimidation and terrorism against civilians, 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 sweeping has included more than 4456 donums of agricultural and wooded land since the outbreak of clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces. In addition, the Israeli occupation forces 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 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 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 sweeping and demolition carried out by the Israeli occupation forces during the period of November 22 – December 18, 2000. At the end of the report, there is a table showing the tracts of land swept from September 29, 2000 to December 18, 2000.
The full report is available PDF format.