About the demolition of houses in Palestine

Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:43:59 -0500 (CDT) From: Ali Abunimah <ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu> To: secretary@state.gov Subject: Israeli Demolitions

April 19, 1999

Dear Secretary Albright,

I am writing to express my alarm at the demolition by Israeli forces of two Palestinian houses in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem today, and to request specific measures by the United States to prevent further such Israeli abuses. 30 people, the majority of them children, have been rendered homeless by this latest Israeli action, which is a direct violation of Article 53 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and of numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions including, but not limited to, resolutions 267 and 298.

The first house demolished belonged to Bassam Tarweh. It had four rooms covering only 700 square feet, and housed 22 people, of whom 14 are children. The family had lived in the house for two years. The second house demolished was that of forty year old Khawla Omr As-Sheikh, who had only lived in the house with her husband and 6 children for twenty-five days. When Israeli forces came to demolish the house, Khawla, who suffers from serious kidney condition, fainted and was taken to hospital in a police car after an ambulance was denied entrance to the area of the house demolition. I received this information from LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment.

I am writing to request that the United States take concrete measures to prevent Israel from carrying out further such illegal actions which are calculated to change the demographic character of Jerusalem and its environs and rid it of its non-Jewish population.

While your cautious statements of criticism of Israeli settlement, demolition and expulsion policies have been welcome, they have had absolutely no practical effect, as the State Department's own analyses have concluded. I therefore urge you to urgently consider measures to suspend or delay the transfer of my hard-earned money to Israel until Israel ceases and desists from its measures to cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian population.


Ali Abunimah ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu


Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

"Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

The United States has determined that this convention applies to all of the Israeli-occupied territories. While apparently unwilling to state its position today, it has done so clearly in the past. For example, Asst. Secretary of State Mr. Thomas Pickering, stated in 1989, when he was Representative to the UN, that "Since the end of the 1967 war, the United States has regarded Israel as the occupying power in the occupied territories, which includes the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The United States considers Israel's occupation to be governed by the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention concerning the protection of civilian populations under military occupation..." (November 27, 1989)