Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has condemned the heartless and inhumane demolition policy of Israeli authorities.
This policy leaves Palestinian families with the choice of demolishing their own homes or being forced to foot the bill if Israelis carry out the demolition themselves.
The Wicklow TD said:
“Palestinian families in the neighbourhoods of al-Bustan in Silwan, Batn al-Hawa, Sheik Jarret, and across the occupied Palestinian territories, are the subject of cruel and inhumane levels of coercive control by the Israeli authorities.
“We currently have a situation where 1,500 Palestinians are faced with the dilemma of either giving in to Israeli demands to demolish their own homes under duress in Silwan, or waiting for the Israeli authorities to turn up and do it for them, and to add insult to injury, they are then being left to foot the bill.
“As cruel and inhumane as this is, the intent behind the demolitions is cloaked in a language of bureaucracy designed to obscure the political and ideological rationale that underpins Israeli expansionist objectives in East Jerusalem and beyond.
“By refusing Palestinians, many of whom are refugees having been forced from their homes following Israeli annexation, permission to erect dwellings, the Jerusalem Municipality claims that the issue is a planning one, and that they are simply removing illegal dwellings.
“According to the UN, a minimum of one third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem do not possess an Israeli issued building permit, which leaves over 100,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem at risk of being displaced.
“During the height of the pandemic in 2020, 175 Palestinian structures were demolished by the Israelis. Fearful of further punishment, 47% of these demolitions were carried out by the owners themselves.
“The campaign of evictions and displacements is being driven by Jewish settler organisations, such as Ateret Cohanim, which has weaponised Israeli courts as a mechanism to affect its strategy of evicting Palestinian families across East Jerusalem.
“The new Israeli government of Naftali Bennet last week granted approval of 31 new West Bank Settlement construction projects across a number of Jewish settlements. The planned buildings include a shopping centre and two synagogues.
“These are the first illegal settlement expansions approved by the new government and are a clear signal that despite the ousting of Netanyahu, Israeli expansion into Palestinian territories is set to continue unabated.
“The forced displacement by Palestinians in the occupied territories is illegal under international law. But Israel remains unsanctioned by an international community that refuses to engage in any meaningful manner on the issue.
“Ireland, through its adoption of the Sinn Féin motion on the annexation of Palestinian lands, has given the Irish government the authority to bring the issue of annexation, the demolition of Palestinian homes, to the EU, the UN Security Council and the wider international arena.
“Yet the government has been silent – it has effectively sat on its hands since the adoption of the motion.
“The government has a moral obligation to speak out on this issue, to bring the focus of the international community onto what is happening to the Palestinian people, and to work to introduce the type and strength of sanctions that will help bring an end to the apartheid practices of the Israeli authorities.”