Hope under the Rubble: The impact of Israel's home demolition policy on Palestinian children and their families

Homes are fundamental for children to grow, thrive, and feel protected. As the Occupying Power, Israel has the duty to protect children’s rights.[1] However, since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967, authorities, so far, have demolished an estimated 28,000 Palestinian homes,[2] displacing and forcibly transferring tens of thousands of children.[3] Behind each demolition, there is a family who lose their home, possessions, stability, livelihood, and access to services, with devastating consequences on their lives and futures. Save the Children consulted 217 families across the West Bank to get a clearer understanding of the immediate and longer-term impact that demolitions have on their lives, and the lives of children in particular.

The findings of the research show that beyond the initial trauma of losing their homes, the resulting dispossession and displacement cripple children’s sense of safety, leads to severe emotional distress, and leaves them isolated from their friends and communities. In fact, most children reported feeling socially isolated and a majority of children felt that their education had been jeopardised following the demolition. Most children feel abandoned by the world and have lost faith in the ability of anyone to provide support and protect their rights, many children reported feelings of powerlessness and disempowerment.

The demolition of Palestinian homes, the expropriation of Palestinian land, and the resulting displacement and forcible transfer are not only illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the fulfilment of children’s rights. As the Occupying Power, Israel has the duty to protect the rights of the protected persons, with special protection to children. Save the Children is calling on the Government of Israel to cancel all existing demolition orders for homes, schools and vital infrastructure. Failing to do so will leave more children without a home or an education, adding to the impact the pandemic is already having on their day-to-day lives.

 

 

1] Israel is bound by IHL as a party to the conflict, and as an occupying power it is bound more specifically by the sub-set of IHL rules that form the law of occupation. Since Israel exercises effective control over Palestinians’ enjoyment of their human rights, it has extraterritorial human rights obligations towards Palestinians.

[2] See Diakonia https://www.diakonia.se/en/IHL/where-we-work/Occupied-Palestinian-Territory/Administration-of-Occupation/House-Demolitions1/

[3] According to OCHA, the number of displaced people from 2009 to 2021 is 11,000. According to Badil, 64,343 people wre displaced due to home demolitions between 1967 and 2011.

Published 2021-06-28