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Demolitions in Qusra

3rd February 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Qusra, Occupied Palestine

In the early morning of February 2nd, 2015, Israeli forces demolished a two-room structure, a water well, and damaged a stone wall in Qusra, Occupied West Bank. All of the destroyed property was on land belonging to brothers Anwar and Akram Tayseer.

Israeli forces, at approximately 5:00am, destroyed the property with bulldozers. When farmers went out into their fields at 5:00am, five Israeli military jeeps were still present at the site, loitering around the recently destroyed infrastructure. The occupying forces refused to speak with anyone. The water well and small concrete structure were built with money donated by the French Consulate, to facilitate agricultural development in the vulnerable region. Located in Area C, Qusra is subject to common attacks from nearby illegal Israeli settlements, mainly the Esh Kodesh outpost. Settlers living in the illegal outpost Esh Kodesh have been implicated in various ´price tag´ attacks throughout the West Bank (acts of violence against Palestinians by settlers). Settlers come after every time local Palestinians work their land, in day or night, sometimes armed with iron bars; families often wake up to destroyed trees, structures, or crops. Israeli soldiers are often present at these incidents, intervening only to protect settlers. An Israeli military watchtower was constructed on the hill overlooking the agricultural lands around ten months ago. In the past, village residents have received Israeli orders to stop building on their land, which they have always respected (despite their illegality). However, it is not uncommon, according to locals, for farmers to have their agricultural structures demolished shortly after receiving these orders, despite the lack of further development.

This is not the first time the Tayseer´s family land has been attacked by settlers. On one occasion two years ago, Akram Tayseer was taken by the settlers, and severely beaten. He sustained injuries which put him in the hospital for  two months, in his head, face, and arm. He was unable to leave his home for one year. Since this incident, residents recount that they have not seen him smile, and perceive that he is broken inside. The family has documents indicating their ownership of the land and the property which once stood on it.

The cost of agricultural structure demolished is approximately 5000 NIS (~$1275USD). The water well served as a collection site, and an important reservoir to nourish the fields. Enclosing the plots of land, around 500 meters of a traditional Palestinian stone wall was dismantled. The fields are the main source of income for the family.

According to OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), 82 Palestinian homes and agricultural structures have been demolished by Israel since the beginning of 2015. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for occupying powers to destroy property; Article 53 states: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons…is prohibited.” Since 1967, Israel has demolished over 27,000 Palestinian structures in the Occupied West Bank.