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Israeli demolitions: “Number of Palestinians affected has increased by 87%” – UN Special Rapporteur

GENEVA (27 June 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, warned Wednesday that the number of people displaced by the demolition of Palestinian structures has increased by 87% compared to 2010. Mr. Falk also demanded that the Israeli Government immediately stop demolishing Palestinian homes and start fulfilling its obligation to protect the right to housing.

“Already this year, Israeli authorities have demolished over 330 Palestinian structures, including homes, animal shelters, water cisterns and roads,” the human rights expert said, and stressed that half of the 536 Palestinians who have been displaced in 2012 are children. “Such demolitions amount to violations against 2,100 Palestinians who have been affected.”

Mr. Falk highlighted the disturbing case of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh. “The home they share with their seven children has been demolished five times over 14 years. While it will be rebuilt once again next month, the family will live under the threat of having its home demolished at any moment.”

“Living under the threat of having your home demolished is no way to bring up a family,” said the UN Special Rapporteur recalling his meeting with Salim during a visit to the region last February. “The ever-present threat of Israeli bulldozers perverts the sense of normalcy so essential for raising children.”

The independent expert also expressed particular concern regarding the Palestinian community of Susiya, in the southern West Bank. “If the demolition orders are executed by Israel, over 160 people will be forcibly displaced, including 120 Palestinian children; is a deeply troubling situation.”

“Israelis expand their illegal outposts near Susiya, without any effort by the Government of Israel to hinder them. At the same time the Israeli High Court of Justice facilitates the demolition of Palestinians’ homes nearby,” Mr. Falk noted, recalling that an appeal from an Israeli settler organization Regavim to the High Court had led to demolition orders against Palestinians in Susiya. “Such discrimination is part and parcel of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

“If Israeli authorities want to respect their international legal obligations, they will freeze the demolition orders against Palestinians in Susiya and ensure that Salim and his wife and children no longer live in fear of having their home and well-being demolished by Israeli bulldozers,” the human rights expert said.

On 2 July, the Special Rapporteur is scheduled to present his report to the twentieth session of the Human Rights Council. Since his appointment in 2008, he has spoken at the Human Rights Council in 2009, 2010, and 2011 on the human rights situations in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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