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NEW YORK — An independent United Nations human rights expert today demanded that Israel immediately stop tearing down Palestinian homes, noting that the number of people affected by the demolition of Palestinian buildings has risen by 87 per cent compared to last year.
“Already this year, Israeli authorities have demolished over 330 Palestinian structures, including homes, animal shelters, water cisterns and roads,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, said in a news release.
He stressed that half of the 536 Palestinians who have been displaced in 2012 are children, noting that “such demolitions amount to violations against 2,100 Palestinians.”
Mr. Falk described as “deeply troubling” the situation in the West Bank community of Susiya, where over 160 Palestinians, including 120 children, will be forcibly displaced if the demolition orders are executed by Israel.
“Israelis expand their illegal outposts near Susiya, without any effort by the Government of Israel to hinder them. At the same time, the Israeli High Court of Justice facilitates the demolition of Palestinians’ homes nearby,” Mr. Falk said.
He recalled that an appeal from an Israeli settler organization Regavim to the High Court had led to demolition orders against Palestinians in Susiya.
“Such discrimination is part and parcel of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” the expert said, adding that if Israeli authorities want to respect their international legal obligations, they will freeze the demolition orders in Susiya.
Senior UN officials have repeatedly called for an end to Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories, particularly the West Bank, stressing that, as the occupying Power, Israel has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and well-being.
Mr. Falk, who has served in his post since 2008, is scheduled to present his report to the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next Monday.
Special rapporteurs, or independent experts, are appointed by the Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. They work in an independent and unpaid capacity.