Monday, October 26, 2020

Israel demolished more Palestinian houses in Area C during the first half of 2016 than in the entire previous year

July 28, 2016
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [demolition] [Area C] [Bedouin]

In a report presented yesterday to the Knesset, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem asserted that Israel demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank during the first half of this year than in the entire previous year. The report states that “from January to the end of June 2016, the Civil Administration demolished 168 homes in the West Bank, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless - 383 of the minors.” By contrast, in all of 2015, 125 homes were demolished.

B’Tselem presented its report at a Knesset conference organized by left-wing Israeli politicians, including Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, regarding Israel’s policy of Palestinian home demolition in Area C. The report does not cover punitive demolitions in Area A, which are chronicled separately.

The report further states that between the beginning of 2006 until 30 June 2016, Israel demolished “at least 1,113 homes of Palestinians in the West Bank,” excluding East Jerusalem, leaving at least 5,199 people homeless. Most of the demolition were carried out in remote communities in the Jordan Valley, the South Hebron Hills, and in the east of Jerusalem, areas which are generally small and underprivileged. These areas are located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control.

According to B’Tselem, these demolitions are part of a coordinated plan to expel Palestinian communities from Area C. Other tactics used by the Civil Administration include repeat demolitions of homes, usually on the grounds that they were built without a permit — a “spurious claim,” B’Tselem says, because there has never been any real possibility for Palestinians to build legally in Area C.

UN Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen backed up this claim at the conference, saying that “nearly all of the remaining 30 percent of Area C, much of which is private Palestinian property, is off limits for Palestinian development, because it requires permits that are almost never granted [by Israel],” Faaborg-Andersen said.

Faaborg-Andersen went on to say that Israel’s Civil Administration granted only one building permit to Palestinians in 2014, and none in 2015, while settler building continues at a rate of about 1,500 new homes a year.

According to Natalie Grove, a representative of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who spoke at the hearing, Israel’s policies and practices “have created a highly coercive environment in Area C that force [Palestinians] to leave.”

House demolitions and forced transfer make up a broader Israeli policy in Area C, according to the report, which is “based on the approach that this area, which spans some 60 percent of the West Bank, is intended primarily to serve Israeli needs.” The most important facet of this approach is establishing facts on the ground which cannot be disputed in future negotiations.

Faaborg-Andersen, quoted in the Jerusalem Post, said at the conference that in order to preserve the viability of a future Palestinian state, Area C must be maintained as a land reserve for Palestinians. Because of this, in recent years when homes have been destroyed in this area, the EU has invested millions of dollars to help them be rebuilt.




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