“Why are you silent when settler homes are demolished?”

What’s the difference between the demolition of Palestinian homes and the demolition of settler homes? Settlers also get their homes demolished, no? “

This is a comment we’ve heard many times. Please find our response to it below.

Indeed it is morally problematic to demolish the residential home of any family when there is an alternative. In this post, we will examine whether or not there is a basis for comparison among home demolitions in both cases.

1. Were the decisions to forbid construction and carry out demolitions made within the context of a fair and legitimate procedure?

Settlers: As is standard in democracies, the decision to forbid construction of homes or carry out demolitions is made within various bodies in which the settlers have representation.

Palestinians: For Palestinians, the decision to ban building or demolish homes  is made by Israeli military planning committees. Although settlers have representation on these committees, Palestinians do not.

2. What is the status of the land upon which the home in question is built?

Settlers: Often, outposts are constructed on other people’s land – usually private or confiscated Palestinian land.

Palestinians: Generally, Palestinians build either on land they privately own, or on “survey” land whose status has yet to be determined. In this sense, the problem is solely a planning one, as the Palestinians are unable to obtain building permits from the Israeli authorities.  Recently, even the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories admitted that most demolished Palestinian structures were built on land privately owned by the builders.

It is one thing to violate the rules of a discriminatory planning system that doesn’t permit you to build, and quite another one to steal land.

3.  Is the home necessary for survival? Is it the only home of the residents?

Settlers: Settler living in outposts, for the most part, have additional homes or living arrangements outside of the outpost. Usually, we are talking about young people – sometimes minors and singles – that move into trailers or huts for a limited number of days until the structure is demolished. In the rare instances where a veteran outpost is evacuated, the state provides alternative housing arrangements. In all cases, the settler is not left homeless.

Palestinians: Generally the structure in question is the only home of the family living in it. After the demolition, the family – which often includes small children – may go live in tents provided by the UN or the Red Cross.

4. How long has the village of the home slated for demolition existed?

Settlers: Generally the trailers or other structures were recently erected by the settlers in order to form a new settelment.

Palestinians: For the most part, these are villages where Palestinians have lived complete lives, often stretching back for several generations. Mostly they existed prior to Israel’s control of the West Bank.

Rabbis for Human Rights