The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) West Bank Demolitions and Displacement Report
Overview for May 2021
In May, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 13 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This resulted in the displacement of nine people, including four children, and otherwise affected the livelihoods, or access to services, of 70 others. All the structures were
located in Area C or East Jerusalem, and were targeted for lacking building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
The decline recorded in May, compared with the first quarter of 2021, is attributed to the month of Ramadan (13 April – 12 May), during which the Israeli authorities customarily halt most demolitions, and the 11-day escalation of hostilities and unrest, between 10-21 May.
None of the structures demolished or seized in May had been provided as humanitarian aid. However, in Al Baqa’a (Hebron), one livelihood structure, provided as humanitarian aid at a value of over 2,000 euros, was served with a stop-work order.
While the number of structures demolished or seized in May is the lowest monthly figure this year, the cumulative figure in 2021, as of end May (330), is 50 % higher than its equivalent for the same period in 2020 (220) and 116 % higher for structures provided as humanitarian aid (110 vs. 51).
Seven of the structures demolished or seized in May, or 54 per cent, were seized without, or with very short, prior notice. In Umm Zaitonah (Hebron), the Israeli authorities seized two residential structures and two livelihood structures for lacking building permits in Area C, displacing nine people, including four children, and affecting the livelihoods of another nine people. The owners reportedly received the seizure orders during the operation itself, preventing them from objecting in advance.
Seized structures may be recovered, but this requires the owners to pay the Israeli Civil Administration for transportation and storage expenses, as well as committing to not reinstall the structures without a building permit. As these permits are almost impossible to obtain, such recoveries rarely happen.
In East Jerusalem, one structure in Ras al ‘Amud, used as a garage and car wash facility, was demolished by the owner, following the issuance of a demolition order. So far in 2021, the proportion of structures demolished by their owners in East Jerusalem, following the issuance of such orders, reached 40 %, up from an average of 27 % in the previous five years. This is attributed to new Israeli legislation, which limits the authority of Israeli courts to intervene and enables the Jerusalem Municipality to exert pressure on families to demolish their properties themselves.
On 2 May, the Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on a leave to appeal request filed by the four extended families facing forced eviction from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. On 7 June, the Israeli Attorney-General announced that he would not intervene in the High Court proceedings with respect to the pending eviction of the four families. The Supreme Court has schedule a hearing on the families’ leave to appeal request on 2 August 2021, and will issue a ruling accordingly.
In a related development, on 26 May, the Jerusalem District Court postponed a pre-scheduled hearing on the planned forced eviction of six Palestinian households, comprising 33 people, including 19 children, from Batn al Hawa quarter in Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. About 100 Palestinian households in Batn Al Hawa are at risk of forced eviction by the Israeli authorities, mostly due to court cases initiated by, Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli settler organization, more than anywhere else in East Jerusalem.