Friday, February 15, 2013

Houses Demolished, Outcry Missing

Houses Demolished, Outcry Missing

by Elliott Abrams

The government demolishes some houses, saying that they were illegally built on public land. There is an international outcry. True or false?

Here’s an account from 2010:

Hamas police expelled Palestinian Arabs from perhaps three dozen houses along the border of Sinai, and demolished them. Hamas said those houses were illegal, being erected on government property in Rafiah. Masked Hamas policewomen beat fellow Arab women and children with clubs, until they evacuated the houses.

Here’s a story from this week:

Members of the Abu Amrah family in Gaza City demonstrated Tuesday in front of offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council protesting a decision by the Hamas-run government to demolish 75 houses belonging to the family in the al-Rimal neighborhood.

I am unaware of any outcry across the globe.

The government of Israel sometimes demolishes homes, saying that they were illegally built on public land. And of course, it is a member state of the United Nations, not a terrorist group. But when it does, one can expect various governments to condemn the action and can expect action in the UN Human Rights Council, perhaps even a debate in the UN General Assembly or Security Council in New York. It’s no surprise that  Baroness Valerie Amos, the UN under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, has said that “Palestinians are utterly frustrated by the impact of Israeli policies on their lives….They are evicted from their homes. Their homes are regularly demolished.” In Israel there is actually an NGO fighting such demolitions, the Israel Committee Against Home Demolitions, a group that takes some rather extreme political positions and has chapters in the UK, Finland, and Norway. And who pays for this–who supports this organization financially? Directly and indirectly, the EU, Norway, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Denmark, the World Bank, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UN Development Program. Of course, this comparison between actions taken by Hamas and actions taken by the government of Israel will annoy some readers, and I do not mean to suggest that all such actions are the same. I mean to suggest that all those international bodies that are outspoken about home demolitions should turn their attention to Gaza as well as to Israel and the West Bank.