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Israeli forces demolish Palestinian structures in the Jordan Valley

Feb. 7, 2017 1:15 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 7, 2017 9:27 P.M.)
Demolitions in Kardala on Feb. 7
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished Palestinian-owned structures in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank on Tuesday morning in two separate incidents, according to locals and a United Nations agency.

In the village of Kardala, located on the northeastern edge of the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces demolished tents and shacks used as a sheep barn, according to Muataz Bisharat, who monitors settlement-related activities in the Jordan Valley.

Bisharat told Ma’an that bulldozers under heavy Israeli military protection demolished the structures, which constituted an area of approximately 180 square meters.

According to Bisharat, the sheep barns belonged to local Bassam Ali Radwan Fuqaha, who was delivered a demolition warrant that said his barn was illegally built in an Israeli military zone.

In response to a request for comment on the two incidents, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli government policies in the occupied territory, said: "This morning an enforcement took place against an illegal structure that was built without the required permits in (Kardala). The enforcement took place after receiving the relevant warrants."
Demolitions in Kardala on Feb. 7

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said in an initial report that another demolition was carried out Tuesday morning in Khirbet Ras al-Ahmar, located just south of Kardala, without providing further details.

A COGAT spokesperson said in regards to the incident that "an enforcement took place against two illegal structures that were build in a closed military zone near Tubas," referring to a main town a few kilometers west of Khirbet Ras al-Ahmar.

"This enforcement took place after a similar enforcement had already been carried out in the area in the past," they said, adding that "Building in closed military zones is extremely dangerous, and risks human lives. The enforcement took place after receiving the required warrants."

The demolitions came after Israeli forces carried out demolitions in the Jordan Valley on at least five other occasions since the beginning of the year, under the pretext that the structures were located in a “firing zone.”

Rights groups have said that Israeli military training zones, known as a "firing zones," are used as a pretext to fully annex portions of the occupied West Bank.

Nearly 20 percent of the occupied West Bank has been declared "firing zones" since the 1970s, but according to the UN, some 80 percent of these areas are not in fact used for military training. However, when military training does take place, Israel forces families to leave their homes for hours or days at a time until the drill is over.

The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C -- under full Israeli military control.

Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with the Jordan Valley’s Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies.

According to OCHA, demolitions in two small herding communities in Area C last month involved the demolition of 19 structures, including 15 that were provided as humanitarian aid.

Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build in land classified as Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control -- leaving residents no choice but to build their homes without permits.

Meanwhile, Israel demolished a record 1,093 structures in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2016, displacing 1,601 Palestinians, which OCHA said were the highest demolition and displacement figures on record.

Since the start of 2017, Israeli forces have already demolished 119 Palestinian structures in the occupied territory, displacing at least 177 Palestinians, according to OCHA, while Israel has also targeted Palestinians communities inside Israel with demolitions, which rights groups argued were part of the same Israeli policy of forcible displacement also carried out against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
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