Wadi Al Hummus Area is located in the East of Jerusalem close to the Sur Baher neighborhood but falls out of the Jerusalem Municipality Borders. Under Israeli law, the area of Wadi Al Hummus is categorized as a West Bank, and according to the interim agreement between Israeli authorities and the Palestinian authority, most of the land in Wadi Al Hummus is categorized as Area (C) which means the issues of planning, building and permits issuing in the area is under the Jurisdiction of the Israeli Civil Administration. Other parts are categorized as areas (A) and (B) where issues related to planning and security falls within the Jurisdiction of the Palestinian authority, most of the residents are Palestinian Jerusalemites since they consider the area as an extension of Sur Baher.
In 2005, Israeli authorities built the annexation wall in Wadi Al Hummus area and isolated it from Bethlehem. The residents of Sur Baher objected to the route of the wall in the Israeli High Court. Since the original route would have isolated part of the area from Jerusalem. It was then agreed with the court that the route would be modified and pushed further to the East in order to include houses of Wadi Al Hummus, thus having them on the Israeli side of the wall.
After building the annexation wall in 2005, many residents of Sur Baher built their houses in Wadi Al Hummus due to the lack of space for building in Sur Baher on the one hand and due to the difficulty of obtaining building permits from the Jerusalem Municipality on the other hand.
In the beginning of this year, inspectors from the Israeli Civil Administration visited the area and informed the residents of 12 buildings that they will demolish them within 7 days based on the military order issued in 2011, since these buildings fall within a “no building” area for military purposes specified in the military order.. (The 12 buildings are located on the border between areas (A) and (B), close to the annexation wall). It is noteworthy that houses built before 2011, meaning before the military order came into effect, are not included in it.
The residents of Sur Baher were neither notified about the military order, nor were they forbidden by Israeli authorities from building houses in the area since 2011. This is the reason why the residents continued building there.
The Society of St. Yves – Catholic Center for Human Rights lodged an appeal to the Israeli High Court seeking to freeze the demolition orders as the residents were not granted enough time to practice their right to object against the demolition order before it was issued. The Israeli High Court issued a temporary injunction preventing the demolition and requested that an objection be filed against the military commander. St. Yves filed this objection following the court’s request but the military commander rejected the objection. Following that, St. Yves filed a petition before the Israeli High Court requesting a new injunction.
According to International law, Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention bans 'any destruction' of property by an occupying power, except when absolutely necessary for military purposes. Article 147 states 'extensive destruction and appropriation of property unjustified by military necessity' (defined as 'measures essential to attain the goals of war, in accordance with the laws and customs of war') is a grave breach, and hence a war crime.