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Mosque, school handed demolition orders

June 13, 2011 1:19 P.M. (Updated: June 14, 2011 12:08 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israel handed out demolition orders for a mosque and public school in the village of Bruqin on Sunday, prompting immediate condemnation from Palestinian leaders.

Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouthi described the Israeli actions as "criminal" on a visit to the village.

"Mosques that survive the arson attempts of settlers only stand to be demolished by the bulldozers of Israel's military," the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative party said.

"The demolition of mosques and houses is not only meant to take control of land, but also to displace our people and uproot them from their land," he added.

Barghouthi urged the Palestinian leadership to "[S]top hesitating on negotiations with an Israeli government controlled by settlers," as well as encouraging popular resistance and international sanctions against Israel.

Israel's Civil Administration handed demolition orders to Bruqin's Omar Mosque and elementary school, demanding the demolition of recently-added prayer halls and classrooms for the overcrowded public institutions.

A spokesman for the Civil Administration said the demolition orders were part of "routine implementation of the law concerning new illegal building."

In his statement, he asked village leaders to "make a step and apply for legal plan and building permits for the new structures."

In March, the UN Relief and Works Agency recorded 76 demolitions of Palestinian buildings. By the early summer, more than 400 buildings had been demolished.

In April, UN officials warned that home and building demolitions carried out by Israeli forces had doubled since the beginning of 2011.

"I am not saying this is classic ethnic cleansing, but the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned this discrimination and make no mistake, it is discrimination against one ethnic group," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness commented following the release of the demolition figures.

"The West Bank is where the future Palestinian state is meant to be situated. Its viability is being reduced with each demolition."

The UN agency urged peace makers to pressure Israel to end its discriminatory practices, noting that the culture of impunity led to more abuses, stimulated anger and resentment on both sides and impeded the peace process.

"Homes, families, lives and the peace process are being demolished," Gunness said.

The body ordering the demolition is Israel's Civil Administration, the country's government arm in the occupied West Bank, which dictates regulations for civilians in zones marked as areas B and C under the Oslo Peace Accords signed in the 1990s. The body works with the military, police and liaises with the Palestinian Authority and some NGOs.
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