Home Demolitions 

Home Demolitions VS International Law

A demolition in Beit-Umar

A demolition in Beit-Umar

The denial of adequate housing and the demolition of Palestinian homes violates international human rights instruments to which Israel is signatory. These include:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing ... " (Article 25.1);

The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which "recognize[s] the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living ... including adequate food, clothing, and housing..." (Article 11.1);

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which obligates State Parties "to ... guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law ... in particular:... (iii) The right to housing" (Article 5);

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which requires that women "enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply..." (Article 14.2h).

Hague Regulations annexed to Hague Convention No. IV. Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, 1907

Article 28:

The pillage of a town or place...is prohibited.

Article 46:

Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected.

Article 47:

Pillage is formally prohibited.

Geneva Convention IV Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 1949 Article 27:

Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights...

Article 32:

The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause physical suffering...of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies...whether...by civilian or military agents.

Article 33:

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

Article 49:

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its civilan population into the territory it occupies.

Article 53:

Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or co-operative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

The Interim Agreement (or Oslo II) also contains provisions which prohibit changing the status of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

I. Relevant sections from Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: Washington, September 28, 1995 ("Oslo II"):


The Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (hereinafter "the PLO"), the representative of the Palestinian people;...[r]eaffirming their determination to put an end to decades of confrontation and to live in peaceful coexistence, mutual dignity and security, while recognizing their mutual legitimate and political rights;...

Hereby Agree as follows:

Article XI (1):

The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during the interim period.

Article XIX:

Israel and the Council shall exercise their powers and responsibilities pursuant to this Agreement with due regard to internationally-accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law.

Article XXXI(7):

Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.

Annex I [to Oslo II]:

Protocol Concerning Redeployment and Security Arrangements, Article XII:

Security Arrangements Concerning Planning, Building and Zoning

General Provisions:

  1. Notwithstanding the provisions relating to planning, building and zoning set out elsewhere in this Agreement, the provisions of this Article shall apply with respect to the areas specified below:
  2. These arrangements will be reviewed within a period of six months from the signing of this Agreement, and, thereafter, every six months, with a view to modifying them, with due consideration to Palestinian plans for establishing economic projects, and to the security concerns of both sides.
  3. The limitations set out below on the construction of buildings and installations in specific areas shall not require the demolition or removal of existing buildings or installations.

Provisions regarding the West Bank:

  1. Building or installations shall not be constructed or erected and natural and artificial culture shall not be altered, on either side of the roads delineated in blue on map No. 7 up to a distance of 50 meters from the center of these roads.

Article XI:

  1. Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Subject to the provisions of this Agreement, the Palestinian police and the Israeli military forces shall exercise their powers and responsibilities pursuant to this Agreement with due regard to internationally-accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law, and shall be guided by the need to protect the public, respect human dignity and avoid harassment.

Annex III [to Oslo II]

Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs, Appendix I, Article 27:

Planning and Zoning:

  1. Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Planning and Zoning in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall be transferred from the military government and its Civil Administration to the Palestinian side. This includes initiating, preparing, amending and abrogating Planning Schemes, and other legislation pertaining to issues regulated by Planning Schemes issuing building permits and supervising and monitoring building activities.
  2. In Area C, powers and responsibilities related to the sphere of Planning and Zoning will be transferred gradually to Palestinian jurisdiction that will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, during the further redeployment phases, to be completed within 18 months from the date of the inauguration of the Council...