- Besides its Knesset, security forces and intelligence
services, Israel's High Court and Civil Administration ravage Palestinian
civil society repressively. Two examples illustrate the problem.
- On June 22, a B'Tselem press release headlined, "Sharp
increase in West Bank home demolitions," saying:
- Through late June, Israel's Civil Administration, its
Judea/Samaria (West Bank) governing body, illegally "demolished more
Palestinians homes....than in all of last year." Most often, soldiers
and Border Police accompany them, forcefully evicting longtime residents.
- Over the most recent seven day period, 33 residential
buildings were demolished in Jordan Valley Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh, and Yarza
communities, as well as southern Hebron Hills Khirbet Bir al-'Id. As a
result, 238 Palestinians, including 129 minors, lost homes.
- Since January 2011, 103 Israeli controlled Area C (62%
of the West Bank) structures were demolished, affecting 706 Palestinians,
including 341 minors. This represents a sharp increase over 2010 and 2009
when 86 and 28 were bulldozed respectively.
- At the same time, Civil Administration officials made
few plans to help Palestinian communities. Instead, they prevent new construction
and development beyond what now exists, "making it impossible for
Palestinians to build legally in these areas."
- Israel contrives ways to enforce policies. For example,
some homes are demolished in areas the IDF declares "firing zones,"
including half of Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea land, even places
located along main traffic arteries or next to or comprising settlements.
As a result, even though Palestinian dwellings date back generations, they're
prohibited from living there henceforth.
- Discriminatory planning and building laws affect communities
like Khirbet Bir al-Id, adjacent to the 1998-built Mizpe Ya'ir outpost.
Though illegal, Israel approved connecting it to water, electricity, other
public services, and basic infrastructure, funding it, including an access
road. Moreover, it did nothing to prohibit its establishment, compared
to Civil Administration harshness, demolishing Palestinian structures on
their own land without permit permission.
- The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
helps rebuild homes. It also resists "land expropriation, settlement
expansions, by-pass road construction, policies of 'closure' and 'separation,'
" destruction of agricultural land and crops, and the occupation's
repressive effects overall, beyond its original mission to oppose and resist
Palestinian house demolitions.
- From June 1967 - July 28, 2010, ICAHD said Israel destroyed
nearly 25,000 Palestinian structures, based on Interior Ministry, Civil
Administration, OCHA, other UN sources, and Palestinian Center for Human
Rights data, as well as Israeli and other Palestinian human rights groups,
Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), its own field work,
and other sources.
- It classifies demolition types as:
- -- punishment for actions associated with the structures
- -- administrative for lacking building permits (about
- -- land-clearing/military demolitions for any reason,
including achieving IDF goals or accompanying extrajudicial assassinations
(about 65.5%); and
- -- other undefined reasons.
- Israel, in fact, annexes Palestinian land one home demolition
at a time. From July 10 - 25, 2011, ICAHD will again rebuild a bulldozed
home, belonging to the Abu Omar family. Built in 1990 on privately owned
land, Israel demolished it in 2005.
- Ahmed Abu Omar applied for permit permission, but agricultural
zoning restrictions denied him, a familiar story heard often to prevent
Palestinians from living on their own land. With his wife and seven children,
he built anyway, but was told in 2003 he did it illegally followed by a
March 2005 demolition order. A month later, Israel bulldozed it despite
his lawful presence, offering no compensation for destroying his property.
- Since then, the Omars got by in a small house provided
by neighbors and an ICAHD-built small, temporary shelter. Omar describes
the experience as "dying every day." ICAHD decided to help him.
The family response was gratitude and eagerness to regain what they lost.
"Their courage to defy the Israeli Occupation's atrocious practice
of demolition, forced eviction, and land expropriation is an inspiration
to" everyone to resist.
- ICAHD stresses that the "right to adequate, permanent,
and safe housing, when fulfilled, provides the foundation for the realization
of other rights," including to work, education, healthcare and other
social benefits, as well as self-determination and political, civil and
human rights. "When Palestinians are denied their right to housing,
other economic, social, cultural, and political rights" are compromised.
- As an occupying power, Israel is legally bound to provide
them, and is prohibited from collectively punishing. It nonetheless persists
because world leaders don't stop it. Palestinians, of course, lose out
in isolation, ignored by powers that can help.
- Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ) Orders Cast Lead
Victims Case Reheard
- On June 23, a Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
press release headlined, "Israel (HCJ) vacates verdict in Case Lead
Case: Appoints New Panel of Judges and Orders Case on behalf of 1,046 victims
- Earlier on April 28, Israel's High Court dismissed a
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) petition filed on behalf of
over 1,000 Cast Lead victims. It asked the High Court to order Israel's
State Attorney "to refrain from raising a claim under the (two-year)
statute of limitations in future civil suits" for just compensation.
- An earlier article discussed the case, accessed through
the following link:
- Pertinent information from it is repeated below.
- At issue, is the universally recognized right to compensation
for violations of international law, what neither Israeli governments nor
its High Court respect. Its April 28 dismissal of legitimate redress is
a blight on its reputation as an equitable tribunal. It's also a serious
setback for Israel's victims.
- "Significantly, the Court's decision to dismiss
the petition was procedurally flawed." It denied PCHR its lawful right
to reply by May 3. It showed Court complicity with rogue officials and
soldiers, shielding them from justice, as well as denying legitimate compensation
to their victims.
- Moreover, the UN Cast Lead Fact-Finding Mission concluded
that such actions amount to "persecution, a crime against humanity."
- International law, in fact, recognizes the right of all
victims to redress, including compensation, when violations have been committed
against them. Yet Gazans are now prevented from "accessing justice,
in violation of their fundamental rights." They now face three major
- (1) Statute of limitations: Under Israeli law, civil
damage claimants have two years to act from the date of the incident, or
lose out entirely. However, Gaza's closure and other restrictions prevented
them from submitting filings within the required time. In fact, before
August 2002, the period allowed was seven years.
- (2) Monetary barrier: Israeli courts require claimants
to pay court insurance fees before filing. While courts may, in fact, wave
them, they're always applied to Palestinians, putting them under an unfair
burden. Moreover, exact amounts aren't fixed. They're determined on a case-by-case
basis. For lost or damaged property, they're usually a percent of its value.
In cases of injury or death, no formal guideline exists.
- PCHR said that in recent wrongful death cases it filed,
claimants had to pay insurance costs of $5,600, an insurmountable amount
for most Palestinians. "Simply put," said PCHR, "claimants
from Gaza - crippled by the economic devastation wrought by the occupation
and the illegal closure - cannot afford this fee and their cases are being
dismissed and closed," denying them justice.
- (3) Physical barriers: Under Israeli law, valid testimonies
require victims or witnesses be in court to undergo cross-examination.
Under siege, however, since June 2007, Gazans were denied permission to
appear. As a result, their claims were dismissed.
- Moreover, PCHR lawyers are prohibited from entering Israel
to represent clients and must hire Israeli ones at extra cost. However,
plaintiffs also are denied entry to meet with attorneys, and they, in turn,
get no permission to enter Gaza. In fact, the entire process is rigged
to insure injustice, another indictment of cruel and discriminatory intolerance.
- PCHR said the policies and practices it challenged "perpetuate
a climate of pervasive impunity." As a result, they effectively made
Gaza an "accountability free zone," what, in fact, applies throughout
Occupied Palestine, reinforced by rogue justices misinterpreting international
law by violating it.
- On June 15, Israel's High Court in part agreed, ordering
new judges rehear the case, whether or not justice this time will be rendered.
It's rare Palestinians get it in any Israeli military or civilian court.
- PCHR's petition was litigated by Michael Sfard and Carmel
Pomerantz, challenging the two-year statute of limitations and numerous
other judicial barriers, including blockading Gaza under siege. It's on
behalf of 1,046 Cast Lead victims, representing most cases prepared after
- "They cover virtually the entire spectrum of international
humanitarian law violations," including "the most infamous cases,"
affecting the Samouni, Abu Halima, and Al-Daia families. The Al-Samounis
lost 23 of their 48 members, Masouda Al-Samouni saying:
- "I have no hope, no future. I lost everything in
the offensive. I was in the corner with my children just watching. I was
screaming and crying. I saw everything, the blood and the brains. There
was smoke everywhere. I saw my brother-in-law falling down, and my mother-in-law.
I realized that my three brothers-in-law and my mother-in-law were dead....I
was injured in the chest and couldn't move....I was bleeding and five months
- Soldiers entered Ateya Al-Samouni's home forcibly, shooting
him in cold blood. Mona Al-Samouni saw her parents shot to death. Others
witnessed similar trauma. Survivors suffer from depression and nightmares.
They're also impoverished.
- The Halima family's experience was similar, losing eight
members, including six children. Seven others were injured, including four
- Israel killed the entire Al-Daia family, destroying its
residence, then blaming the tragedy on an operational error when, in fact,
it deliberately targets non-military sites, including homes, schools, hospitals,
universities, mosques, historic sites, and many others unrelated to military
- As a result, most Cast Lead casualties were civilians.
It was no accident. It's now up to Israel's High Court to provide redress,
though no amount will restore lost lives or remove permanent scars.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive
Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central
time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy