Fact sheet: Home Demolitions

When your house is demolished 

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Since 1967

+48,000 Palestinian homes and structures crucial to a family’s livelihood (animal pens for example) demolished under Israeli order.1

In 2016

362 housing units were destroyed under Israeli order in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

1,429 people left homeless, including 751 minors2

Why might a home demolition happen?

  1. A Palestinian family grows and needs additional space —possibly for a married son and his wife.
  2. They apply to the Israeli authorities for a building permit, but it is denied.3
  3. Eventually, the family takes the risk and builds anyway.
  4. Israeli authorities learn of the construction and issue orders for the demolition.
  5. To avoid paying the bill of US$30,000, the family may demolish its own house.

What is the impact of house demolitions?

Families lose financial assets and their income drops. They are forcibly displaced, often permanently.

Children are more likely to experience withdrawal, sleep disruption, depression/anxiety, violent behaviour and social problems. Their educational achievement and ability to study deteriorates.

House demolitions are often accompanied by injuries, arrests and even the death of family members.4

Who is most at risk?

One group most at risk is Palestinian families without building permits in Israeli controlled portions of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. View a map of this region. 

Another group at high risk of having their homes demolished are Palestinian Bedouins who were formerly nomadic pastoral people; today, they are sedentary, raising animals and growing grain for their livelihood.

There are 46 Bedouin communities in the heart of the West Bank 

In early 2017, Khan al Ahmar, an entire Bedouin community of 140 on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, was threatened with demolition. The demolition order included a school serving 170 children from surrounding Bedouin communities. Israel was offering to relocate the community in an urban relocation area.5

There are 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) desert in southern Israel. View a map of this region. 

Though technically not under occupation, these communities are at significant risk for demolition. Al Araqib, an historic and “unrecognized” village in the Naqab, has been demolished by Israeli authorities and rebuilt by its residents more than 100 times since 2010.6

Why does Israel demolish Palestinian homes?

  • to make possible the expansion of settlements for Israeli Jews
  • to intimidate Palestinians and stifle resistance

As an occupying power, Israel is obligated under international law and the Geneva Conventions:

  • to protect the civilians under occupation
  • to refrain from forcible transfer of population
  • to respect private property

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1. Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
2. B’tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
3. Between 2010 and 2014, less than two per cent of applications were approved. UN Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs.
4. Save the Children.
5. UN Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs.
6. IMEMC News.

This fact sheet is part of an MCC campaign called A Cry for Home. Learn more about the campaign and see how you can get involved. 

Read stories from the A Cry for Home campaign 

View more A Cry for Home fact sheets