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Palestinian homes must cease to be a target, UN human rights experts say

GENEVA (25 November 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and on the right to adequate housing today called on the Government of Israel to end its punitive demolition of Palestinian homes in response to alleged acts of violence by Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

On 19 November, Israeli security forces demolished the East Jerusalem home of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, the Palestinian who allegedly committed last month’s car attack in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of a 22 year-old woman and a three-month old Israeli infant. The demolition resulted in structural damage to several nearby apartments. Israeli security forces also reportedly raided seven other units in the same residential building.

“All acts of violence require a firm response from the Israeli authorities, and those responsible should be tried before a court of law and sentenced for their crimes,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono. “But the State cannot go beyond what is sanctioned by international law.”

“In the case of Mr. Al-Shaludi, who was shot and killed by Israeli police at the scene of the attack, the demolition of his home in the middle of the night served no other purpose than to punish his innocent parents and five siblings, rendering them homeless.” Ms. Farha noted. “Simply put: the use of house demolition as a punitive measure is a form of collective punishment contrary to international law. Israel must immediately end its use of this devastating practice”.

At least six other homes of Palestinian suspects located in occupied East Jerusalem, Askar refugee camp near Nablus, and Hebron have reportedly been slated for demolition or sealing, which involves the complete or partial closing off of the rooms of a home with concrete or metal sheeting, prohibiting family members from accessing their homes, at times indefinitely.

Israel has apparently ordered more house demolitions following the latest attack in a Jerusalem synagogue that killed five Israelis on 18 November.

Amid rising tensions and repeated clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Rapporteurs warn that such demolitions only add to the frustration and despair felt by people living under prolonged military occupation, and sow the seeds of more hatred and violence for the future.

In August 2014, Israeli authorities partially demolished the homes of two Palestinians suspected, but not convicted, of the murders of three Israeli youth in June. Numerous petitions have been filed against punitive house demolitions on the basis that they violate the rights of people, including children, who are not accused of a crime, and therefore constitute collective punishment, prohibited under international law. However, Israel’s High Court of Justice has repeatedly sanctioned this practice.

“The only means to stop this cycle of violence is for Israel to place human rights at the centre of its policy-making”, Mr. Wibisono added.


Mr. Makarim Wibisono (Indonesia) was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the sixth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. As Special Rapporteur, Mr. Wibisono is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/PS/Pages/SRPalestine.aspx

Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada) is the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. Ms. Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada Without Poverty, based in Ottawa, Canada. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Ms. Farha has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups and on the situation of people living in poverty. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country pages:
Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx
Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
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