Israel + 1 more

OPT: Threat of house demolitions/evictions

News and Press Release
Originally published
Case ISR 240103.ESCR
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Threat of house demolitions/evictions
The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a Al-Haq, a member of the OMCT network, of the possible demolition of 14 house, affecting more than 90 people in two West Bank villages located close to the Green Line.

According to the information received, on January 13th 2003 an official from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior -identifying himself as Ronain- issued 14 warning letters to homeowners in the West Bank villages of Al Burj and Beit Mersim. According to the information received, the warning letters were issued by the regional section of the building inspection unit of the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and indicated that the homes of the recipients were constructed illegally. According to the information received, the letters further requested that all construction work in the area had to be stopped and that all the buildings that have been identified as having been constructed illegally should be destroyed. It is also reported that the letters called on the 14 homeowners to visit the inspector's office at the Ministry of the Interior within ten days, stipulating that any failure to do so could result in legal action being taken against them.

According to the information received, several homeowners were also told verbally that it had been determined that their homes had been constructed illegally on the Israeli side of the green line and would therefore be destroyed. More than ninety people reportedly live in the fourteen homes in question.

Background Information

According to the information received, the villages of of Al Burj and beit Mersim -where the 14 homes are constructed- are located close to the green line with Israel. It is reported that all the homeowners who received warning letters own houses that are located on the West Bank side of this line, at a distance of approximately 10 to 15 meters from this line. In this respect, the owners of other homes located in the two villages, which are further from the green line reportedly did not receive warning letters.

According to the information received, the Ministry of the Interior stipulated that the letters are merely warnings and are not demolition orders. The letters were allegedly issued in order to give the homeowners a chance to state their cases. In the meantime, the Ministry of the Interior reportedly detailed that it will continue to investigate the case using experts to determine on which side of the green line the homes are being located.

According to the information received, the fact that it is the Israeli Ministry of the Interior rather than the Civil Administration that issued the warning letters in these West Bank villages is in itself worrying. Indeed, one can fear that these letters might be a precursory move that could eventually lead to a shifting of the green line to the east. Indeed, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior has no legal authority in the West Bank and any action taken by this Ministry in these two villages would amount to a de facto illegal annexation of these areas to Israeli control.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:

i. put a stop to all demolition of houses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;

ii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms, including economic, social and cultural rights throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.


Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, Jerusalem 91007, Israel. Fax:(+ 972 2)566 48 38 / 691 79 15; E-mail:; or

Mr. Eli Yishai, Minister of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Fax: 00972 2 670 1411; E-mail:

Mr. Meir Sheetri, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91029, State of Israel. Fax:(+ 972 2) 62 8 54 38 or Fax: ++ 972 2 628 8618; Email

Mr. Benjamin Netanyaou, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax:(+ 972 2) 530 3704; E-mail:

Please also write to the embassies of Israel in your respective country.

Geneva, January 24, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)
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