UNRWA condemns today's punitive demolitions in the occupied West Bank

05 July 2016
© 2016 UNRWA Photo

Statement attributable to UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

The Israeli authorities carried out punitive demolitions in Kalandia refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in the middle of last night, demolishing two homes. The Israeli army operation began around midnight last night, beginning with the demolition of the home of UNRWA sanitation labourer, Yassin Yusuf Assaf and five members of his family. Assaf’s son Issa was killed while carrying out a stabbing attack that resulted in the death of two Israelis outside Jaffa Gate in December 2015.

The walls of the home were demolished from the inside. There are also 16 other adjoining apartments belonging to other relatives, but we cannot confirm if they have been damaged.

The second demolition was of the home of Mohammad Saleh Hussein Hammad Abu-Habsa. While we cannot confirm if there was any damage to surrounding property, the demolition order was against the room that had been inhabited by another of the perpetrators of the stabbing attack in December last year, Anan Hammad Abu-Habsa.  The second demolition was completed around 4 a.m. this morning

There were armed clashes during the Israeli security forces operation, with at least six injuries, three reportedly by live fire and three by plastic-coated metal bullets.  

There were no reports of Israeli operations violating UNRWA installations, although there was reportedly a heavy presence of Israeli personnel around the Agency’s Kalandia Training Centre. In addition, the house of Assaf was 95 m from the UNRWA Basic Girls’ School.

Punitive home demolitions are a form of collective punishment which are illegal under international law. They inflict distress and suffering on those who have not committed the action that led to the demolition and they often endanger people and property in the vicinity.

UNRWA condemns punitive demolitions and reminds Israel, the occupying power, that under international humanitarian law it has an obligation to protect the occupied people and provide services.

Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

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