On 24 December 2012, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) made a written submission, in the form of an Individual Complaint, to Ms. Raquel Rolnik, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, which draws attention to the case of Mr. Mahmoud Nimee Al Bahtiti (62) from Tel-al-Hawa, Gaza City, Gaza Strip (Palestine).
As a part of the Israeli offensive on Gaza Strip, Operation Pillar of Defense, on 16 November 2012 the Israeli Air Force twice bombarded the building of the Civil Department of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza City. The building is located in a densely populated residential area, close to many homes, 2 schools, and a hospital. The first attack was carried out at around 05:30 hours and the second attack took place at around 21:30 hours on the same day. The impact of both these attacks, especially the second one, caused immense damage and destruction to the surrounding civilian properties including civilian homes.
Mr. Mahmoud Nimee Al Bahtiti’s 2-storey building, which is located just over 5 meters away from the Ministry of Interior’s building, was severely damaged in these Israeli air strikes. The building is home to the 27 members of the Al Bahtiti family, and has the family-owned automobile workshop on the ground floor. The entire building was extensively damaged in the attack.
Being the Occupying Power of the Gaza Strip, Israel is compelled to observe its obligations under the international human rights treaties and covenants it has ratified. Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights obliges Israel to refrain from taking any action that would directly contravene the right to adequate housing of the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip. By carrying out attacks like these in densely populated areas and causing the destruction of civilian homes, Israel violates this right.
In addition to the aforementioned violations of the International Human Rights Law standards, Israel also violates Article 46 of the Hague Convention of Laws and Customs of War on Land, which states that Israel should respect the private property in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, under Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel is prohibited from destroying the 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. Any harm to the aforementioned property is allowed only under the rarest of rare cases, where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.
PCHR will be submitting either Memorandums or Individual Complaints on a bi-weekly basis to UN Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs, to draw attention to issues facing the Palestinian people.