Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

An Israeli bulldozer demolishes a Palestinian home in the illegally-occupied West Bank village of Khirbet Jinba on September 2, 2020. (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli authorities demolish a Palestinian house in the illegally-occupied West Bank village of Khirbet Jinba on September 2, 2020, since it was reportedly built in "Area C" without Israeli authorization. (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

UN: Israeli Demolition of Palestinian Homes Increases Despite Pandemic

Dozens of Palestinians were recently displaced because Israeli authorities destroyed their homes, even as Covid-19 cases increased by a third. 

Brett Wilkins

The Israeli government's demolition of Palestinian homes in the illegally-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has dramatically increased during the coronavirus pandemic despite public health risks, the United Nations said on Friday. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that "Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 13 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C [of the West Bank] and East Jerusalem, displacing 44 and affecting the livelihoods or access to services of 12 others" between August 29 and September 8.

OCHA said that since the start of the pandemic, 393 structures have been demolished. "This represents a 60% increase compared with the monthly average between 2017 and 2019," according to the agency. "The structures demolished or seized over the past six months include 46 inhabited homes that were in place prior to the start of the crisis, leading to the displacement of 299 Palestinians."

Israeli authorities cite Palestinians' lack of required building permits—which are nearly impossible to obtain—as the reason for the demolitions. 

There are three categories of Israeli home demolitions: punitive demolitions which follow Palestinian violence against Israelis, administrative demolitions carried out under pretext of code enforcement, and military "clearing operations." 

Punitive demolitions have been condemned by both Israeli and international human rights advocates as a form of illegal collective punishment. Home demolitions and removal of Palestinians—often to make living space for Jewish-only settler colonies—have often been called a form of ethnic cleansing, and the settlements have been condemned as a form of apartheid that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called "worse than South Africa."

"The destruction of property in an occupied territory is prohibited under international humanitarian law, unless absolutely necessary for military operations," Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, said Thursday in response to the most recent Israeli demolitions. 

"The global pandemic has increased the needs and vulnerabilities of Palestinians who are already trapped in the abnormality of prolonged military occupation," McGoldrick added. "Unlawful demolitions exacerbate these vulnerabilities and must stop immediately."

According to OCHA, the number of Covid-19 cases in Palestine rose by a third to 11,077 during the most recent reporting period (August 29 to September 8), with six more deaths, bringing the territory's total toll to 215 since the pandemic began. 

In addition to home demolitions, OCHA also identifies "settler violence," including "physical attacks on Palestinian farmers and vandalism against Palestinian vehicles and olive trees," as a "continuing concern." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo