Practice Relating to Rule 51. Public and Private Property in Occupied Territory
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including violations of Article 55 of Geneva Convention IV, is a punishable offence.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2004, Ireland stated:
The construction of the wall involves destruction by Israel, as the Occupying Power, of real and personal property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Such destruction is prohibited by Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, absent circumstances rendering such destruction absolutely necessary by military operations. Furthermore, such destruction breaches Article 23(g) of the Hague Regulations concerning the laws and customs of war on land of 19 October 1907, which states that: “it is especially forbidden: (g) to destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” The construction of the wall might arguably breach Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which makes “extensive destruction and appropriation of property” a “grave breach” of the Convention if it is “not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.
In 2008, in a written response to a question on foreign conflicts, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated:
Ireland and its EU partners have consistently urged the Israeli Government to cease all activities in in the Occupied Territories, including … the demolition of Palestinian homes, which are contrary to international law and which threaten to make any solution based on the co-existence of two viable States physically impossible.
In 2009, in a written response to a question on foreign conflicts, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated:
Many Palestinians in East Jerusalem are unable to demonstrate legal title to their homes, because of the historical vicissitudes of the administration of the city. … Unlike Israelis in similar circumstances, Palestinians found to be in breach of planning rules often find that their entire property is ordered to be demolished, and the inhabitants evicted, in some cases from homes they lived in long before Israel occupied the area.
… At the same time, illegal Israeli settlements continue to flourish with little or no official interference, and indeed benefit from the provision of substantial infrastructure to support them.
These linked policies leave Palestinians in East Jerusalem and its environs in a state of great insecurity. There is great concern, which I share, that the intended effect of these policies is to alter the demographic character of parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and to cut the area as a whole off from the rest of the West Bank. Such a policy is not only manifestly unjust and illegal under international law, but presents a serious and growing obstacle to the achievement of a final overall peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian people.