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Israel destruction of Palestine homes violates international law: Switzerland

[JURIST] Switzerland's Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (FDFA) [official website] condemned Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem [B'Tselem backgrounder] as a violation of international humanitarian law in a statement [press release] Thursday and called on Israel to stop the demolitions. According to the FDFA, Israel is under a duty to protect the civilians in East Jerusalem as it is part of occupied Palestinian territory. A spokesperson for the FDFA added that the demolitions violate the Fourth Geneva Convention [ICRC document] which forbids an occupying power from destroying property in an occupied territory. As a party and the depositary state for the Geneva Conventions, Switzerland has always regarded itself as having special legal obligations [FDFA backgrounder] towards the monitoring of the Conventions and international adherence to them. AP has more. WAFA has additional coverage.

Israel has been strongly criticized by the international community over its settlement and land appropriation activities, particularly in the West Bank. Since 2000 over 1,600 homes have been demolished in the West Bank, including 600 in East Jerusalem. In July, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din [advocacy website] highlighted the lack of investigations and prosecutions [JURIST report] of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories who commit crimes against Palestinians. In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] said that Israeli plans to expand settlements [Ha'aretz report] in the West Bank violate international law [JURIST report].

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