Uprooting Palestinian Trees And Leveling Agricultural Land
October 26 – November 21, 2000
This is the second 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 October 26-November 21, 2000, continuing our first report on the period of September 29-October 25, 2000. In the first 27 days of clashes, the Israeli occupation forces swept 807 donums of land, about half of which were agricultural lands. The following 27 days witnessed unprecedented escalation of sweeping and demolition that affected 2021.5 donums of land, including more than 1,960 donums of agricultural land. These figures do not include the areas of houses and civilian and agricultural facilities established outside these areas, which were also swept and demolished.
The human rights violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian civilians are not limited to willful killing and shelling by combat helicopters, gunboats and tanks of civilian facilities 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. 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 IV 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.
The full report is available PDF format.