Forced Displacement

Dynamic Report

This dynamic online report aims at exposing the various ways in which Israeli and International corporations have been complicit in the Israeli perpetrated forced displacement.

The report presents five main themes of corporate involvement in the Israeli forced displacement of the Palestinian people:

  1. Construction of Israeli settlements
  2. Provision of infrastructure for Israeli settlements
  3. Supplying raw materials for the construction of Israeli settlements
  4. Demolitions of Palestinian homes
  5. Exploitation of Palestinian natural resources

As shown in the updates of this report, the last few years have seen a notable escalation of forced displacement in general- and in both the West Bank and the Naqab (Negev) desert in particular. As part of the ongoing project of mass displacement, Israel particularly targets both the ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin villages in the Naqab and Area C of the West Bank. Both of which are areas that hold distinguished statuses and have high strategic significance both politically and economically.

The Israeli Practices of forced displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population has been a systematic policy taking different forms over the past century. The year of 1948 marked the first major mass transfer of Palestinians, the effects of which are still ongoing today with more than 7.4 million Palestinian refugees, representing over 66 per cent of the global Palestinian population.[1] This process was further accelerated from 1967 onwards, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinian were displaced through Israel’s land plans, military laws, and at times settler/state based violence.

By supporting and facilitating the activities outlined in the categories mentioned above, Israeli and International corporations have been reaping profit on the expense of Palestinian lives and resources and acting in grave breach of international law.

Through Israeli and international corporations, Israel is provided with construction machinery, raw material, bulldozers and excavators with which it constructs on Palestinian land to strengthen its hold over the Palestinian territory and its resources. By establishing “facts on the ground”, excavators and loaders were and still are reshaping the landscape: building the infrastructure for the illegal Israeli settlement project; separating Palestinian communities from each other by creating roadblocks, barriers and segregation roads; and demolishing thousands of Palestinian houses, public buildings and commercial properties in order to restrict the development of towns and villages.

Israeli corporations have been playing a central role in the Israeli construction industry in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as many new and expansionist projects were carried out by and through them. Inevitably, the profit made from these projects has many times been contingent upon land grab, forced displacement, and at times even settler or state violence. The major Israeli construction corporations include; Housing and Construction, Africa Israel InvestmentsDanya CebusElectra Construction, Arison Group, and Minrav Group. Many of these corporations and more are featured in this report’s latest updates on current construction projects in existing and new Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territory.

International corporations are also heavily involved in the Israeli forced displacement. For example, since there is no significant Israeli industry that meets the local demand of construction and demolition equipment, the Israeli heavy machinery market is based on import. Thus, most of the construction machinery sold in Israel is manufactured in Western Europe (primarily in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany), the United States, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The major multinational corporations in the Israeli market are: BobcatCaterpillarCNH IndustrialDoosanHidromekHitachiHyundai Heavy IndustriesJCBLiebherrTerex and Volvo. All of these companies generate their revenues mainly from sales to public and private Israeli construction companies.

In conclusion, whether through house demolitions, construction of settlements, roads, infrastructure or the separation wall, these corporations are all active parties in the Israeli forced displacement project.

The “forcibility” component in the term “forcible displacement” is interpreted broadly under international law as it “[…] is not restricted to physical force, but may include threat of force or coercion, such as that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or abuse of power against such person or persons or another person, or by taking advantage of a coercive environment.”

In contextualizing forced displaced under the international treaty-based law many important frameworks come into play. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly states that an occupying power is prohibited from forcibly transferring the civilian population of an occupied territory. In addition, Article 147 of the same convention categorizes “the extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” as a grave breach of international law. Moreover, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court[2] clearly states that forced displacement, a systematic attack on a civilian population, can also be considered a war crime, giving rise to individual accountability.[3]

When it comes to businesses, while there is no international binding instrument that specifically prohibits their complicity in arbitrary displacement of persons/peoples, corporations do have the responsibility to refrain from investing and/or operating in a way that could potentially lead to forced displacement. In fact, the 6th Principle of the Guiding principles on internal displacement states that the prohibition of arbitrary displacement applies to both states and non-governmental bodies.[4] Furthermore, corporations are generally obliged to take all actions to remedy their human rights violations that might occur in their regular businesses ventures.

 


[1] BADIL, 2012. Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2010-2012. Available at: http://www.badil.org/en/press-releases/142-2012/3638-press-eng-53

[2] ‘Forcible transfer’ pertains to the forced displacement of individuals of communities within a de jure or de facto national border. Article 49 also covers situations of deportation, characterized by the forced displacement of individuals across such borders.

[3] International Criminal Court, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998, Article 8(2) (a)(vii)

[4] Guiding Principles on Internal Forced Displacement, Introduction Scope and Purpose, 2004. Article 3



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