For 67 years, Israel has been destroying Palestinian homes and villages – a video seminar

westbank home destruction

Desperate and frightened Palestinian residents watch a home being destroyed in the West Bank as Israeli military stand guard. The total number of Palestinian homes destroyed in the 67 years since the creation of Israel almost certainly exceeds 100,000. Why does Israeli do that?  To find out watch my video seminar organized by the National Council on Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR)

As Prime Minister Harper and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau congratulate Israel on its the 67th anniversary, I invite you to consider one aspect of the human cost of the creation of the State of Israel: the destruction of Palestinian homes and villages. The demolition program began in 1947 and continues to the present day. I have prepared a 41 minute documentary video with on-site video footage and interviews from 6 different sites in Israel and the West Bank.

Three footnotes to the video:

1.  How many exactly have been destroyed?

I don’t know. The first homes were destroyed in Jaffa in the very early days of the Nakba in December 1947 – well before the declaration of the State of Israel. The total number of Palestinian homes destroyed between 1947 and 2015 would seem to be reliably estimated at somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. Anyone who has a better number please share it.

This estimate is based on what we do know::

2.  Reasons given?

Israel gives many reasons for the destruction of Palestinian homes. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • For military construction (e.g. the home is in the way of a new police station, or army depot or training area)
  • For urban planning (e.g. the home is in the way of a new rapid transit line or new highway)
  • For parkland (e.g. Silwan, in East Jerusalem)
  • Forfeited property – (e.g. the owner of the home has left Jerusalem and the property is forfeit to the state)
  • For illegal construction – e.g. the Palestinian owner has become frustrated because he cannot get a building permit and has built or renovated “illegally”.
  • For retribution – eg. the building is home to someone accused of “terrorism’
  • “unowned land” – Israel refuses to recognize the rights of Bedouins whose villages predate the creation of the state of Israel. They live in “unrecognized” villages, like Al Araqib, which has been destroyed more than 60 times.

3.  Where are the destroyed homes?

From 1947 – 1967, the bulk of the destruction of homes was concentrated inside the borders of today’s Israel.

However, after ’67, when Israel took over East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, its destructive efforts have been concentrated in the “occupied territories”. Nonetheless, significant land confiscation and home destruction continue inside Israel, particularly in the Galilee and in the Negev.


  1. When one things of “Forfeited property – (e.g. the owner of the home has left Jerusalem and the property is forfeit to the state)” it is important to remind people that in most cases the owner is being prevented from returning to the state. In one case that was in the news during one of my trips to the area, the owner of a hotel that was in East Jerusalem, lived just on the other side of the wall that separates East Jerusalem from nearby suburbs. The state was seizing the hotel because the owner had chosen to live in “enemy territory”. The owner wanted to return but was prevented from doing so. I am told that this is the most common cause of “forfeited property”.

  2. I have witnessed this destruction of homes by Israel for over 30 years They of course claim that it is all legal action on their part. In reality it is a land grab and harassment by using a variety of ruses one of which is to demolish homes built or repaired without a permit from the occupiers. — something virtually impossible to secure.. When enough people know enough the voices crying for the use of forgiveness justice and reconciliation might gain a place at the table.

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