Yesterday, at approximately 11 in the morning, Israeli bulldozers, under the protection of hundreds of police officers and Special Forces, demolished the home of Mr. Bassam Jamil Ibrahim in the village of Majdal Shams, in the Occupied Syrian Golan. The Israeli authorities have justified the destruction of Mr. Bassam Ibrahim’s home on the basis that it was built without the necessary permit. This is the first time that the Israeli authorities have demolished a home in Madjal Shams. The destruction of this home marks the adoption of a new systematic policy of home demolitions by the Israeli authorities in the remaining Syrian villages in the Occupied Syrian Golan. The Syrian owners of dozens of other homes have been threatened with similar action.

The implementation of this arbitrary policy comes at the same time that the Israeli authorities are imposing what could be described as ‘sieges’ on the five remaining Syrian villages in the Occupied Syrian Golan. The Israeli authorities are preventing the natural expansion of these villages – as is the case for other communities under Israeli control in the Occupied Territories, as well as Israel itself.

Israel is pursuing discriminatory policies against the Syrian population that prohibit new development and construction, and that severely restrict other forms of urban expansion. At the same time it is implementing policies that encourage and facilitate the construction and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Syrian Golan.

As a result of the severe restrictions imposed by Israeli planning and construction committees, it is close to impossible for the Syrian population to obtain the necessary building permits. Therefore, the Syrian population is forced to build homes without building permits, as this is the only way to meet their housing needs given unprecedented levels of overcrowding.

These discriminatory policies implemented by the Israeli authorities against the Syrian population in the Occupied Syrian Golan violate multiple international human rights standards, such as: the right to adequate housing; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to physical and mental health; the right to privacy; and the right to establish a family life.

In addition, the policy of home demolitions is contrary to the provisions of international humanitarian law, and constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which prohibits ‘extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly’ by an occupying power.

All-Marsad strongly condemns the demolition of the home of Mr. Bassam Ibrahim, and expresses its serious concern about the implementation of a systematic policy by the Israeli authorities to demolish Syrian homes in the Occupied Syrian Golan alongside existing severe restrictions on urban planning in Syrian communities. Al-Marsad calls on:

• The Israeli authorities to immediately end all home demolitions and discriminatory policies targeting the Syrian population in the Occupied Syrian Golan.

• The International Community to fulfil its responsibility to act, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure that Israel complies with its obligations under international law, and stops all forms of discrimination against the Syrian population of the Occupied Syrian Golan, including the immediate end of home demolitions.

ENDS
Al-Marsad is an independent, not-for-profit, legal human rights organisation – it is the only human rights organisation operating in the Occupied Syrian Golan. For additional information, please contact marsad@golan-marsad.org.

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