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OCHA: ‘Israel’ increasing Palestinian home demolitions

In February, Israeli occupation authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 153 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the fourth-highest monthly total recorded, since UN began systematically documenting this practice in 2009.

This month’s incidents resulted in the displacement of 305 people, including 172
children, and affected the livelihoods or access to services of 435 others, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Territories (OCHA) in a report released on Tuesday.

With the exception of two structures in Tura al Gharbiya (Jenin), demolished or damaged on
punitive grounds, all the structures targeted were located in Area C or East Jerusalem
and were demolished due to a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain, OCHA said.

So far in 2021, the monthly average of structures targeted represents a 65 per cent increase compared with the monthly average in 2020.

On five separate occasions in February, the herding community of Humsa – Al Bqai’a in the northern Jordan Valley (Tubas) witnessed the confiscation and demolition of 82 structures by the Israeli occupation authorities.

Nearly 80 per cent of the targeted structures were provided as humanitarian aid and included homes, WASH and livelihood
structures, at a value of at least 43,000 euros.

As a result of these five incidents, some 60 people, including 35 children were displaced.

In a statement issued on 24 February following a visit to Humsa – Al Bqai’a, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lynn Hastings, called on the Israeli
occupation authorities to “immediately halt all further demolitions of Palestinian homes and
possessions, allow the humanitarian community to provide shelter, food and water
to this most vulnerable group and these people to remain in their homes.”

So far in 2021, over 50 per cent of all targeted structures have been located in Bedouin
and herding communities in Area C, up from 31 per cent in 2020.

The agency also said that nearly 90 per cent of all structures targeted in February were seized without prior warning in Area C.

This is a significant increase compared with 30 per cent in 2020, 11 per cent in 2017 and eight per cent in 2016.

Seizure procedures do not oblige the authorities to provide prior notice, thus preventing affected people from objecting in advance and have been characterized by the Head of the Supervision Unit within the ICA as “a strategic tool”.

So far in 2021, a total of 93 structures provided as humanitarian aid have been demolished or seized by the Israeli occupation authorities, compared with 157 structures in all of 2020. Additionally, in Bruqin (Salfit), Israeli settlers destroyed, uprooted, or stole donor-funded saplings and infrastructure materials for a value of 2,300 euros.

A family of seven was affected by the incident.
Fifteen structures were demolished in East Jerusalem: seven were demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality and seven by the owners themselves, following the issuance of a demolition order.

The largest incident took place in Al ‘Isawiya on 22 February, where the Jerusalem Municipality accompanied by Israeli Forces demolished a residential building comprising four apartments, displacing 19 people, including ten children.

The affected families had been paying fines since 2017 for building without a permit and received a final demolition order in July 2020 and a verbal warning the day before the demolition. Clashes erupted during the demolition incident, during which a Palestinian man was injured with a rubber bullet.

On 10 February, the Israeli occupation authorities punitively demolished a home in the village of Tura al Gharbiya (Jenin), in Area B,
belonging to a Palestinian man indicted for killing an Israeli woman on 20 December 2020. A family of seven, including four children, was displaced, in addition to a family of four displaced due to collateral damage caused by the demolition.

These communities are some of the most vulnerable in the West Bank, with limited access to education, health services, and to water, sanitation, and electricity infrastructure, the agency said.

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