UNOCHA recorded a 45% increase in the demolitions of homes and other civilian structures in 2019 compared to 2018. Sliman Khader/FLASH90
A number of US lawmakers penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 16, with more than 60 Members of Congress urging the Trump administration to take immediate action to oppose the Israeli government’s acceleration of home demolitions and displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank.
Writing to Secretary Pompeo, the letter requested the State Department to examine Israeli compliance with the requirements applied by the Arms Export Control Act in order to ensure that U.S.-supplied equipment is not being used to destroy Palestinian homes.
The signers noted that the United States “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice.”
“U.S.-supplied military equipment to Israel should only be used for legitimate self-defense against the very real security threats Israel faces,” said Rep. Khanna. “Such military equipment should not be used to turn Palestinian homes into rubble, displace families, and tear apart communities. I look forward to the State Department providing the information necessary to ensure that U.S.-supplied military equipment in the West Bank is not being used in this destructive practice.”
“We write with concerns over the ongoing home demolitions and forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including the recent demolitions in Wadi al-Hummus and other communities in East Jerusalem”, read the letter. “We urge you to press the Israeli government to prevent more families from being forcibly transferred and having their homes destroyed.”
“The Israeli government recently accelerated the rate of home demolitions. In the West Bank, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recorded a 45% increase in the demolitions of homes and other civilian structures in 2019 compared to 2018”, it said.
“The United States should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice”, added the lawmakers. “The faithful implementation of the AECA is one important oversight tool for ensuring that U.S.-origin defense articles and other items recipient countries purchase with foreign military financing are not used for such purposes outside the scope of “legitimate self-defense.”
“Is the demolition of civilian homes an authorized purpose for the use of U.S.-origin and supplied defense articles or other items purchased by the Israeli government with foreign military financing?” wondered the congressmen. “Have any U.S.-origin defense articles or other items purchased by the Israeli government with foreign military financing subject to the AECA or any other U.S. law or regulation been used by Israel to conduct home demolitions?
“What steps has the United States taken, if any, to communicate its concerns about the legal, political, and human implications of Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hummus and other communities throughout the West Bank?”, it added.
“We look forward to your response to these questions by April 30, 2020, and also urge you to take immediate action to press the Israeli government to prevent more home demolitions, and request that you provide Congress with the information necessary for proper oversight of the use of U.S.-defense articles and other items purchased with foreign military financing for use in the West Bank”, the letter further read.
The letter was also endorsed by J Street, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Win Without War.