In 2009-13 on average 856 persons were displaced from their homes each year in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, and 499 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished in each year by the Israeli authorities. Now research funded by the UK’s Department for International Development has put a price on the economic damage this does.
A report written by an Israeli researcher, Shir Hever, and published today by the Norwegian Refugee Council, puts the average damage to each affected household at $185,362. Yet the victims receive little if any compensation. Hever proposes that they should demand compenstion and that the cumulative amount of money owed in this way should count as part of Israel’s national debt.
Hever looked at the cost of acquiring a new residence, but also at other “incidentals” such as legal fees and fines, loss of furniture and personal possessions, the costs of time lost through going through demolition and displacement. He also attributed costs to readjustment (findng new jobs, schools etc.), psychological damage, and loss of productivity due to worsened housing conditions, as well as loss of property.
Hever notes that 90% of the demolitions take place in the rural Area C, and the remainder in East Jerusalem, where house prices are much higher. This affects the averages.
The report of the International Advisory Board on planning in Area C will be launched in Ramallah on Thursday. The planning system provides a legal basis for demolitions such as those researched by Hever.