Monday, January 26, 2004

Israeli house demolitions

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) may no longer be able to keep up with the homelessness of the Palestinians caused by the Israeli demolition of houses in the Gaza Strip. Since October 2000, more than 14,000 people in the Gaza Strip have lost their homes, of which almost 10,000 lived in the Rafah refugee camp (in the last three years demolitions have left almost ten percent of the residents of the refugee camp homeless). Since January 16, 584 people have been left homeless. And still people wonder out loud how it is that the awful Palestinians can commit such terrible and completely unprovoked terrorist acts against the utterly innocent Israelis! The Israelis claim to be stopping smuggling tunnels, but typically demolish not only the home above the tunnel end, but a cluster of homes in the area. Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of UNRWA, said (or here):

"Any humanitarian looking at the sheer number of innocent civilians who have lost their homes can only condemn Israel's house demolition policy as a hugely disproportionate military response by an occupation army."


"The nearly 15,000 people whose homes and possessions have been ground into the sand by Israel's bulldozers can hardly be blamed if they have come to believe that they are the victims of collective punishment."


"It is a policy that creates only hardship and bitterness, and in the end can only undermine hope for future reconciliation and peace."

UNRWA has asked for donors to supply additional funds to help pay for the new homes that will be required.