OCHA warns about Israel plans to demolish thousands of Palestinian structures

EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

Palestinian farmers harvest wheat grains near settlement of susia in the West Bank City of Hebron in Area C on 28 May 2013.

According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) tens of thousands of demolition orders are currently outstanding in Area C of West Bank


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Israeli authorities intend to demolish over 11,000 buildings, affecting an estimated 17,000 Palestinian-owned structures, in the Area C of the West Bank, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.

Today, OCHA stressed that while the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures in Area C is of continuing concern, the issue of demolition orders has received less attention. Official data released by the Israeli authorities indicates that over 11,000 demolition orders, are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank.

The dataset was obtained from the Israeli Civil Administration upon request from an Israeli NGO based on the Israeli Freedom of Information Act. It includes all Israeli demolition orders that were issued since 1988 against Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank. The dataset also includes Israeli-issued demolition orders against Israeli settlement structures located in Area C.

OCHA underlines that these orders heighten the vulnerability of thousands of poor Palestinian households, some of whom are at imminent risk of forcible displacement. Israel retains direct control over Area C, which encompasses more than 60 per cent of the West Bank and is home to approximately 300,000 Palestinians. Due to the lack of adequate planning and discriminatory allocation of public land, it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in most of Area C.

Area C covers 60 percent of the West Bank. The area was temporarily divided into three parts – A,B and C – under a 1995 Interim Agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). The Area C was supposed to be transferred to the Palestinians by the end of 1998 but Israel has maintained military control of the area.

On 17 August, the Israeli authorities demolished dozens of structures in the West Bank. Then senior United Nations officials urged the government of Israel to immediately freeze the demolitions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also previously clarified to the Israeli authorities that the “relocation” of the Palestinian refugee communities amount to forcible transfers and forced evictions, contravening Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under humanitarian law and human rights law.

 

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