By: Gergana Mileva
Over 500 rabbis call for the demolition of Palestinian homes to be stopped through an open letter addressed to the Israeli Prime Minister. Members of the Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions blatantly go against both Jewish traditions and international law. It is this injustice that has brought together RHR members from the US, Canada, Britain, and Israel to voice out a common plea.
In West Bank alone, over 400 homes have been razed to the ground. Although it is true that the land is controlled by the government, the move to take over these lands have left Palestinians defenseless. The planning and zoning laws in place are seen as the root of all this, as they are highly restrictive and leave the Palestinians with no other choice but to build homes in State-owned lands. As a result, this also leaves them in a state where they are unsure how long they would be able to enjoy having a roof over their heads.
The rabbis also find that the Palestinians do not have the ability to plan communities properly. Since local and district planning communities were dissolved in 1971, the power to at least create strategies on how communities will be built effectively were all given to the army.
The United Nations has actually raised concerns over the same issue early this year, especially after 77 homes throughout Ramallah, Hebron, Jericho and East Jerusalem were bulldozed. Half of these 77 were children.
What raised even higher concerns around the UN was the fact that some of these structures that were demolished were mostly funded by international sources who wanted to give these vulnerable families a decent home. The UN also counts around 590 structures destroyed in 2014, affecting 1,177 individuals all in all. This was a record high according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The demolitions have not stopped since then.
Seeing how the laws go against the people, the Palestinians are now left in a vicious cycle where they have no choice but to build homes in government-controlled lands and wait for the day when these structures will be demolished anyway. With the joint forces of the UN and the RHR seemingly unable to phase the Israeli government, it looks like more would have to be done to make sure that those affected will hopefully see the day when they can build homes without fear of losing it in the end.
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