As part of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR’s) follow-up of the procedures by the Authority Land in Gaza regarding encroachments on government-owned lands in Beit Lahia and considering theses encroachments as a clear violation of the law, PCHR stresses that each person has the right to adequate housing according to the Palestinian Basic Law and its 2005 amendments and the State of Palestine’s obligations stipulated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, on 15 December 2016, the Authority land in Gaza handed final demolition notices for 45 houses. Those notices included the Authority Land’s decision to remove those house as their owners encroached by building on government-owned lands in the American School neighborhood in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. On 01 November 2016, the Authority Land in Gaza issued preliminary notices for these owners to immediately remove the encroachments or the government will do so by force.
It should be noted that the area of the encroached lands is about 30 dunums where there are 250 houses, sheltering 1500 individuals. All those houses were built on government-owned lands as some of them were built 60 years ago. Moreover, the Authority Land in the Gaza Strip intends to demolish the abovementioned houses in order to allocate the aforementioned area for the interest of governmental housing projects for Gaza Government employees.
Following PCHR’s follow-up, Mr. Hasan Abu Riyalah, Vice President of the Palestinian Land Authority, said to PCHR’s lawyer, whom he met with at his office on 09 January 2017, that there are many residential and agricultural encroachments in this neighborhood; only few of them occurred 60 years ago but the rest are new. Therefore, the Land Authority will remove all encroachments on the government-owned lands in this area on three stages. In the first stage, 45 houses will be demolished for the interest of establishing housing projects in this area.
Abu Riyalah added that the Land Authority refuses to allocate this land for the encroachers. He clarified this by saying, “The encroachers would be awarded on their encroachments and encourage others to continue encroaching the government-owned lands. Therefore, they should obey the government and Land Authority’s solutions according to the latter’s vision and not to the encroachers’ behest.” Abu Riyalah also said that the Land Authority will allocate lands in al-Zahraa’ neighborhood and al-Dobat land in the northern Gaza Strip for the residents of the area. Moreover, in light of the encroachments removal from the houses, the Authority will pay compensations ranged between $3000 and $5000 according to the house condition.
PCHR follows up the Gaza Land Authority’s policy in dealing with the encroachments on the government-owned lands and the procedures taken to remove them. PCHR also stresses that building on government-owned lands is a blatant violation of the Palestinian law. In the same context, PCHR calls for promoting and protecting each person’s right to adequate housing according to the Palestinian Basic Law and its 2005 amendments and according to the international standards for the right to adequate housing that is among the most important economic, social and cultural rights.
PCHR also calls upon the government to be very careful in the procedures of removing the encroachments on the government-owned lands and achieve balance between the need to impose the rule of law from one hand and respect of human rights and freedoms from another hand.