Expert Opinion

Forced evictions leave Palestinian families homeless in the harsh winter

One of our favorite blogs, from +972 Magazine – a blog-based web magazine that deals with current issues and politics in Israel and Palestine – posted a series of photos of families left homeless in winter due to the demolitions of their homes last week.  The threat of eviction and building demolitions are a common occurrence in the West Bank, as families live with the constant anxiety of losing their homes, facing potential dangers to their safety while fearing the loss of their livelihoods and possessions.

‘‘On January 17, the Israeli army destroyed 55 homes and animal shelters in the Al Maleh area… simultaneously in two separate locations: Hamamat al-Maleh, and further up the [Jordan] Valley in Al-Mayta,’’ +972 stated. Reports that only two weeks ago the families were forced to leave their homes for the night, allegedly due to Israeli Military training, exemplifies the constant fear of displacement the people were living with. ”The Israeli army confiscated the community’s possessions,including food, bedding and tents that had been provided to the families by the Red Cross after the demolitions. However, the residents stayed and slept out in the fields with no shelter.’’

Despite mounting international condemnation and the UN’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state,Israeli authorities continues to demolish Palestinian houses on the basis that they lack building permits in line with Israeli domestic law. IDMC’s most recent report on the Palestinian territories suggests that in the West Bank’s Area C -where the two villages affected by the January 17 military operations were located, an area fully controlled by Israel  – construction by Palestinians is permitted in only about one percent of the area. Even so, sources say that applications for building permits are almost never accepted by Israeli authorities.

”The people have suffered a continuous pattern of harassment by the Israeli army”

This recent event only reiterates the problems faced by people displaced, in Area C and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, where +972 says ‘’the people have suffered a continuous pattern of harassment by the Israeli army.’’Forced evictions and housing demolitions have become an unwelcome part of their day-to-day existence.  Though exact figures are difficult to verify, the number of people internally displaced over the past four decades is between 160,000 (IDMC, December 2011) and 270,000 (Forced Migration Review, December 2012).

Forced evictions and housing demolitions are just two items on a laundry list of causes of displacement in the territories, not to forget the psychological, financial, and social toll of internal displacement on the Palestinian families.This picture gallery on +972 by photographers Mareike Lauken and Keren Manor shows the real face of this issue.

For more information, visit IDMC’s page on Palestine.