As America celebrated the re-election of Barack Obama, it was business as usual in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank. At least two Palestinian homes were demolished today. The residents’ ‘crime?’ They didn’t have building permits, which are issued by Israel and are next to impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
According to Operation Dove, an Italian organization that maintains an international presence in the South Hebron Hills, one home was destroyed in Ad Deirat, while another house and a water cistern were destroyed in Jawwaya.
Both villages are located in Area C of the West Bank, where Palestinians are under increasing pressure from Israel. Tamar Feldman of ACRI told me recently that 14 Palestinian villages in the south Hebron Hills are in legal battles initiated by the state and the settlers in an attempt to expel the residents from the land. Another 12 villages live in area that the Israeli army wants to turn into Firing Zone 918. If the state has its way, 1,500 people will be forced from their homes.
A majority of Palestinians cannot receive building permits to expand their homes or build new houses in Area C, which is controlled by Israel. Jewish settlements, however, continue to expand.
On Monday, Israeli forces evicted two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. One of the houses was demolished. According to the United Nations’ Displacement Working Group:
…(T)he Jerusalem Municipality, accompanied by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority and police forces, demolished the home of a Palestinian man and his wife in At Tur, close to Zayyem checkpoint. The home was built on a plot that is reportedly privately owned, but located in an area zoned as “green” by Israeli authorities…The limited amount of land zoned for Palestinian construction has resulted in a severe housing crisis, with an estimated shortfall of over 1,100 housing units a year, leaving many Palestinian few options but to built without Israeli-issued permits.
A family of six was evicted from their home on the Mount of Olives on Monday morning, as well. DWG reports:
According to the family, the home was broken into and the family evicted by armed individuals in civilian clothing who did not present any official identification. Israeli police forces were reportedly present outside the building, on the main street…The other apartments in the building were previously taken over by settlers associated with the El Ad settler organization, which has claimed before Israeli courts to have bought the building, via middle men, from the original owner in 2005. The family evicted [Monday] included the original owner’s mother, brother, his wife and three children.
It is worth noting that regardless of the ownership of the building, the forced eviction and displacement of civilians and the establishment of settlements in occupied territory remain illegal under international law.
As of October 25, Israel had destroyed 138 Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2012 alone, according to the DWG. 690 Palestinians were displaced due to the demolitions; over half of the displaced are children. DWG notes that some have “been displaced more than once” this year.