In light of the international silence policy towards the Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in general and in East Jerusalem in particular, which has become a concerning phenomenon that threats the world countries’ respect or the application of international humanitarian law, the Israeli Government has continued its settlement activities in the oPt, in an unprecedented manner, for 50 years. Few days after the Israeli Government’s decision to expel Palestinian Bedouins residing the Pope Mountain Community in al-Izzariyah village, east of occupied Jerusalem, for the interest of settlement projects in the area, the Israeli Government, supported by the Israeli Supreme Court’s decisions, which violate the international law, is planning to blow up 6 residential buildings in Matar neighborhood in Qalandiya, north of occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli Government intends to displace more than 300 Palestinian civilians, rendering them homeless. At the time, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) emphasizes the legal status of East Jerusalem as a city under occupation, PCHR also stresses that these Israeli measures are part of the Israeli government’s plans to create a Jewish Majority in the occupied city. PCHR also calls upon the international community to fulfill their moral and legal obligation and take an immediate action to stop the implementation of this new plan and all settlement activities in the oPt.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 06:00 on Monday, 20 November 2017, large force of Israeli soldiers accompanied with a staff from the Israeli Municipality Explosive Engineering Unit moved into Matar neighborhood in Kafer ‘Aqab village, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli municipality staff took measurements of 6 residential buildings in the neighborhood and declared the intention to blow up 6 residential buildings under the pretext that the buildings are close to the unused Qalandiya Military Airport, in addition to building a street in the area. These buildings include dozens of apartments, sheltering hundreds of civilians.
‘Emad ‘Awad, Head of Kafer ‘Aqab Municipality, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the Israeli forces moved into Matar neighborhood several times before and engineering crews took measurements of 6 buildings in order to demolish them by the Israeli forces under the pretext of to expand a street. The Mayor added that the Israeli forces put marks on the buildings that will be demolished; four of which belong to Shuhadah and al-Saleimah families. Ra’ed Hamdan, Spokesperson of the Kafer ‘Aqab Municipality, said that one of these buildings is uninhabited and the Israeli forces totally closed it. As for the rest of the buildings, they are inhabited by 80 families of around 300 members.
Ayman Romiyah, one of the inhabitants in Matar neighborhood, said that the families, whose houses threatened to be demolished their houses, received eviction notices in September 2017, but they did not take it seriously. The inhabitants were surprised 10 days ago with the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision, which allows the Israeli municipality to demolish the buildings within a month in a period starts from mid-November to mid-December. Romiyah added that the Israeli municipality staffs handed eviction notices to the families living in the abovementioned buildings 5 days before the end of the period set by the court. According to some inhabitants, the Israeli forces intend to expand a street that passes through these buildings, which were built years ago, allowing only private vehicles to travel on it while preventing public buses to pass.
PCHR condemns the Israeli government’s targeting this population and other nearby communities in Jerusalem and the Israeli Supreme Court’s decisions, which implement the policies of the Israeli government, in flagrant violation of the international law. PCHR reminds the international community of the Israeli forces’ violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and Article 147, which stipulates that extensive destruction and appropriation of property are not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly and are grave breaches amounting to war crimes according to Article 85, paragraph 5 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. Moreover, these crimes are in violation of Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which stipulates that the States Parties has an obligation to ensure each person’s right to an adequate standard of living for him and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing.
In light of the above, PCHR:
- Calls upon the international community to intervene in order to oblige Israel to stop all its settlement activities in the oPt, particularly in East Jerusalem;
- Emphasizes East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and all the measures taken by the Israeli authorities following the 1967 occupation of it do not change this legal status;
- Confirms that all Israeli settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem are considered as a war crime, according to the international humanitarian law;
- Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances; and
- Believes that the conspiracy of silence practiced by the international community has encouraged Israel to commit more violations of international human rights and international humanitarian laws, including efforts to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.