Demolitions in East Jerusalem set a 'dangerous precedent,' says World Council of Churches head

(Photo: EAPPI)

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit has called on Israel to stop the illegal demolitions immediately calling the latest actions in East Jerusalem set a "dangerous precedent."

"Israeli authorities have demolished 16 Palestinian buildings, containing some 70 apartments, in Wadi Al-Hummus, in occupied East Jerusalem," said Tveit in a statement on July 24.

"This is against international law."

More than 200 people have been displaced in East Jerusalem this year said the WCC.

The Jerusalem Post reported, "In just two hours, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) cranes destroyed the home that Ghaleb Abu Hadwan had spent two years building at the end of a small asphalt road next to the West Bank security barrier, in a place called Wadi Hummus just outside of Jerusalem.

"The gray haired Palestinian plumber, who speaks both Arabic and Hebrew, returned on Tuesday morning to survey the rubble on the lot where his home had stood," said the Jerusalem newspaper.

Earlier in the month at the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva June 24-July 12, the WCC had delivered a statement calling on the government of Israel to cease demolishing Palestinian homes and structures.

In Wadi Al-Hummus in southeast Jerusalem, 16 large buildings which are home to 500 Palestinian people were given demolition orders with a request to self-demolish by July 18, said the WCC.

Tveit noted that "Israel as an occupying power is bound by International Humanitarian Law to protect the Palestinian civilian population."

He said, "The 4th Geneva Convention clearly states that the occupier cannot destroy or seize property on territory it is occupying, and that forcible transfer of residents of an occupied territory, unless for imperative military reasons, constitutes a grave breach of international law."

Tveit explained that "This particular demolition establishes a new and dangerous precedent, in that the houses being razed are in an area under Palestinian Authority control, and their construction had been approved by the PA."

The WCC had said that its Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine had reported that its accompaniers had observed nine homes in Wadi-Al-Hummus have been demolished, with at least two families forcibly removed from their homes.

EAPPI participants described at 10 buses of soldiers and 10 bulldozers that had begun arriving at about 3:00 a.m. on July 23.

Accompaniers said that more than 100 families were removed altogether and prior to the demolitions.

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