Secretary General of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat said this week that demolishing Palestinian homes is one of Israel’s “most immoral policies.”
The PLO reported that Israeli forces have demolished 31 Palestinian homes since Sept. 13, when Muslims were banned from entering Al Aqsa Mosque compound, fueling tension that killed more than 120 Palestinians and 22 Israelis.
"Demolishing homes is one of the most immoral policies conducted by the Israeli occupation. Forcible displacement of Palestinians is part of the ongoing Nakba aimed at displacing our people and replacing them with foreign settlers," Erekat said.
"The home demolitions in Jerusalem have reached such an intolerable degree that Palestinians are virtually prevented from building on their own land," he added.
Recently, the Israeli government decided to widen its policy of punitively demolishing the family homes of Palestinians accused of allegedly attacking Israelis.
The PLO statement also said that the demolitions were a form of collective punishment and violated international law.
The statement highlighted the case of the Al Hadiyyah Bedouin community in Jordan Valley who were “harassed” by Israeli authorities, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
B’Tselem said last week that Israeli authorities destroyed several tents belonging to the Bedouin families. On Nov. 25, they also destroyed a dirt road leading to families’ tents, restricting access to and from the community.
Israel’s treatment of the community was an attempt to expel Palestinians from the area and violated international law because it "constitutes the forcible transfer of protected persons inside the occupied territory, whether directly through home demolitions, or indirectly, by creating unlivable conditions," the group said.
However, some of the homes were destroyed because they did not have building permits.
On Monday, Israeli media reported that although nearly half of Jerusalem’s population consisted of Palestinians, only 7 percent of building permits issued in the city went to Palestinian neighbourhoods.
In June, a United Nations report said that overcrowding, due to lack of housing for Palestinians, was sparked by the difficulties in getting building permits, in contrast to Israeli settlements or neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.
The report also highlighted that the lack of permits were routinely forcing Palestinians to build homes without permission, despite the high possibility of demolition in the future.
Homes of Palestinian suspects were also demolished by the Israeli government, which said that the homes would not be allowed to be rebuilt afterwards.
30,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel occupation since 1967 with 3,000 destroyed in East Jerusalem alone, PLO reported.