+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Palestinians protest surge in home demolitions by Israeli army

The Israeli army has displaced more Palestinians since the start of this year than it did in all of 2015, the UN reports. Dozens protest the fourth such demolition in Khirbet Tana in recent months.

By Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

A structure demolished by Israeli military forces in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Tana, east of Nablus, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

A structure demolished by Israeli military forces in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Tana, east of Nablus, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Around 100 Palestinians protested the Israeli army’s stepped-up campaign of home demolitions by holding Friday prayers in front of a partly demolished mosque in Khirbet Tana, a small village east of Nabus. The mosque dates back to Ottoman times.

A total of 54 structures were demolished in nine Palestinian communities across the West Bank on Thursday alone, displacing 124 people, including 60 children, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). On Wednesday the army demolished six structures in the Palestinian village of Umm el-Kheir.

Read also: IDF admits discriminating against Palestinians in home demolitions

The most recent demolition in Khirbet Tana Thursday, which was the fourth demolition in the village this year, destroyed several tents, homes and livestock structures. The army also confiscated one car, a tractor and some water tanks.

Several decades ago Israeli military authorities declared Khirbet Tana and the surrounding area as a live-fire army training zone, a tactic Israel uses in various parts of the West Bank to push Palestinian communities out.

Dozens of Palestinians protest in solidarity with the residents of Khirbet Tana, where the Israeli army this week demolished structures for the fourth time in 2016, Khirbet Tana, April 8, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Dozens of Palestinians protest in solidarity with the residents of Khirbet Tana, where the Israeli army this week demolished structures for the fourth time in 2016, Khirbet Tana, April 8, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

UN Coordinator for Humanitarian and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory Robert Piper visited the village in late March.

“It’s hard to see how demolitions like the ones in Khirbet Tana are about anything other than pushing vulnerable Palestinians out of certain parts of the West Bank,” Piper said at the time.

Research by OCHA shows that some 18 percent of the West Bank is designated as military training areas, although “nearly 80 percent of such military areas are not used for training.”

A man raises a Palestinian flag on top of the partially demolished Ottoman-era mosque in Khirbet Tana ahead of a protest against Israel’s stepped up wave of demolitions, April 8, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

A man raises a Palestinian flag on top of the partially demolished Ottoman-era mosque in Khirbet Tana ahead of a protest against Israel’s stepped up wave of demolitions, April 8, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

In 2014, a senior IDF officer admitted in a Knesset committee meeting that the army uses live-fire zones as a method for displacing Palestinians from areas in which it does not want them, or in other words, for political purposes.

Speaking at the protest on Friday, Abu Mahmoud Hanani, a resident of Khirbet Tana said, “This is an ongoing campaign to uproot us from this land even though we were living here even before the creation of Israel.”

Another resident, Rasem Hussein took a resilient tone: “we are used to this kind of Israeli occupation demolitions. It will never force us to leave.”

More demolitions so far this year than all of 2015

A woman washes clothes outside amid scattered belongings after Israeli military forces demolished several structures in Khirbet Tana, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

A woman washes clothes outside amid scattered belongings after Israeli military forces demolished several structures in Khirbet Tana, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

The Israeli military has dramatically stepped up the demolition of Palestinian homes and structures in 2016.

The army demolished 539 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank thus far in 2016, compared to a total of 453 structures in all of 2015, according to OCHA.

Likewise, military demolitions have displaced 804 Palestinians thus far in 2016, compared to 580 in all of 2015.

The head of Israel’s military government in the West Bank publicly admitted this week that the army demolishes Palestinian homes at a vastly higher rate than it does Jewish settler homes that it deems illegally built.

“Our enforcement against Palestinians is hundreds of percentage points higher [than against Jews],” Maj.-Gen. Yoav ‘Poli’ Mordechai told the Knesset Sub-Committee for Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Affairs on Wednesday.

Palestinian residents of Khirbet Tana examine the damage after Israeli military forces demolished a number of structures in the village earlier in the day, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Palestinian residents of Khirbet Tana examine the damage after Israeli military forces demolished a number of structures in the village earlier in the day, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 11,000 demolition orders pending against Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank, the 60-percent of the occupied territory over which the Israeli army exercises full administrative control. Almost all Israeli settlements are located in Area C.

Jewish settlers in the West Bank have their own planning mechanisms, albeit subject to approval from the army. Palestinians, meanwhile, have no planning mechanisms at their disposal and must approach the occupying army for permission to build even on their own privately owned land.

Residents of Khirbet Tana take shelter from the sun under a tree following the Israeli army demolished their homes and other structures earlier in the day, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Residents of Khirbet Tana take shelter from the sun under a tree following the Israeli army demolished their homes and other structures earlier in the day, West Bank, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

That system results in a situation in which less than 1 percent of Area C is zoned for Palestinian use, we reported last year: 94 percent of requests by Palestinians for building permits are rejected; approximately 70 percent of Palestinians in Area C live in unrecognized villages, and thus are not connected to a water supply or have proper sewage infrastructure.

Since the occupation of 1967 began, Israel has demolished more than 28,000 Palestinian-owned structures, according to a report by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Israeli soldiers block the main, unpaved access road to the West Bank village of Khirbet Tana after military forces demolished a number of structures in the village, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers block the main, unpaved access road to the West Bank village of Khirbet Tana after military forces demolished a number of structures in the village, April 7, 2016. (Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man contributed to this report.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      Yes, look at those nice Israeli soldiers. The “most moral.” Just helping out those protected persons they occupy. Tikun olam. Repairing the world. Yep. And no one can figure out why lone teenagers are trying to stab them. I mean, it could have nothing whatsoever to do with what these soldiers do here, right? I mean, why be a “hater” over a few demolitions? (It’s only a mere 539 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank demolished displacing 804 people thus far in 2016, 453 structures demolished and 580 displaced in 2015, and since 1967 more than 28,000 homes demolished. Big deal. Right?) Why be a “hater” over that? So it must just be that these teens are imbeciles who are “incited.” Yeah, that’s it. It’s the new anti-Semitism.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      The discrimination here (below) is not news. It’s been going on for 49 years. I guess what is “news,” though it’s really not, is the admission in open court of a “secret political decision” that is “top secret” and that can’t be divulged to petitioners and must be kept in a locked vault. But Israel has nothing to hide? Because it is a beacon of Justice? Yeah?

      Prosecution admits secret political decision to halt Palestinian building plan in Jerusalem neighborhood
      Admission follows petition alleging discrimination in approval granted to Jewish developers in the area but not to Palestinians.

      Nir Hasson
      http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.713661

      “…The petition alleges disparities in planning approval for a plot of land at Givat Hamatos, just to the east of Beit Safafa on land owned by the Israel Land Authority and slated for development by Jewish developers, and a second on Palestinian-owned land. Both plans underwent the same approval process and were given preliminary approval at the same time three years ago. However, without any explanation, only the Jewish plan was allowed to proceed to the next step toward final approval, in which members of the public are given time to file objections to the plan. The Palestinian construction plan was put on hold.

      “The matter of the petition was brought before senior political officials,” the response states, and “in accordance with the position of those officials,” the plans cannot be implemented at this time “for considerations entrusted to the political level.” …

      The response goes on to say that no further elaboration can be provided, but the state wishes to provide a confidential affidavit and to hold a hearing behind closed doors or without representatives of the petitioners present. The affidavit should be considered “top secret” and should be stored in a locked courthouse vault, the response noted.

      Reply to Comment