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Israeli demolitions leave 53 Palestinians homeless

Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank thus far in 2016 than in any other calendar year in the last decade.

Palestinians look on as Israeli soldiers and Civil Administration contractors demolish their homes and other structures in a small village in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, June 19, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians look on as Israeli soldiers and Civil Administration contractors demolish their homes and other structures in a small village in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, June 19, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Israeli authorities destroyed 33 structures, 20 of them homes, across the West Bank since the beginning of August. The demolitions have left 53 people, including 25 minors, homeless, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

The demolitions began on August 4th in the Al-Mu’arrajat community in the Jordan Valley, where four homes were destroyed and 14 people were left homeless. On August 8 authorities bulldozed two homes in the village Fasayil in the Jordan Valley, leaving 12 people without shelter. On August 9 authorities demolished five homes, leaving 27 people homeless, in the Um al-Kheir community, located in the South Hebron Hills.

Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank thus far in 2016 than in any other calendar year in the last decade. As my colleague Natasha Roth previously pointed out, Israel justifies administrative demolitions by arguing that the structures in question have been built without a permit.

WATCH: Israeli authorities demolish home in Um al-Kheir

All homes and structures demolished by Israel were located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under both Israeli civil and military control. The Palestinians as well as the international community consider the area to be part of a future Palestinian state. Israel, on the other hand, wants Area C, where the settlements are located, to remain in its hands.

However, it is nearly impossible for Palestinians in Area C to obtain building permits: between 2010 and 2014 the army’s Civil Administration granted just 1.5 percent of requests. The IDF recently admitted that when it comes to demolitions in the West Bank, “enforcement against Palestinians is hundreds of percentage points higher [than against Jews].”

The demolitions come on the backdrop of increasing pressure and condemnation against Israel for its home demolition policies. Just last month, European Union ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen slammed Israel for destroying Palestinian homes in Area C. Last week U.S. officials warned the Obama administration would respond harshly should Israel demolish the West Bank village of Susya —  which has been under threat of imminent demolition for several years — and that it was “troubled” by Israel’s “provocative” razing of three EU-funded shelters in the West Bank.

Since 2006, B’Tselem reports, Israel has destroyed at least 1,146 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, not including punitive home demolitions. As a result, at least 6,000 Palestinians have been displaced, around half of whom are minors.

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    1. Bruce Gould

      And here I thought I had a patent on the phrase “gratuitous cruelty”:

      Many Israelis, including those who might acknowledge the accuracy of my description, will readily blame the impasse on the cumulative trauma resulting from Arab, including Palestinian, violence against Jews going back to the beginning of the conflict. There is clearly some truth to this claim, though it does not explain the gratuitous cruelty inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians over the last few decades or the enormous and continuing theft of land that must be seen as the true raison d’être of the occupation. To understand the issue more deeply, it’s crucial to see what the occupation really means on the ground—and, apart from actually spending time in the occupied territories, there is no better way to understand this reality than to read the volume of soldiers’ testimonies just published by the Israeli peace group known as Breaking the Silence, a book, in my view, that is one of the most important published on Israel/Palestine in this generation.

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/02/24/israel-palestine-breaking-silence/

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