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UN: Marked increase in forced displacement of Palestinians

July 21, 2011 5:00 P.M. (Updated: July 23, 2011 5:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report Thursday documenting alarming trends in the forced displacement of Palestinians in Area C.

The OCHA report found that more demolitions have taken place so far in 2011 than in all of 2009 and 2010 combined.

The Khan Al-Ahmar village near Jerusalem received four stop work orders last week, the report said, and there are ongoing demolition orders against another two hundred and fifty structures in surrounding communities.

Around twenty Bedouin communities with a population of 2,353 people live in the Jerusalem periphery with over 80 percent of them at risk of displacement due to the expansion of the Maale Adumim settlement and the separation wall.

The report, based on field visits to thirteen communities in Area C, found that in most cases Palestinian families are being forced to leave due to "restrictive policies and practices of the Israeli authorities, including movement and access restrictions, settlement activity and restrictions on Palestinian construction."

Thousands are at risk of displacement, the report added.

Three hundred and forty two Palestinian owned structures were demolished by Israel in the first half of 2011 and 656 people, including 351 children, lost their homes in the first half of 2011, almost five times more than within the same period last year.

There are also over 3,000 demolition orders outstanding, including 18 targeting schools.

Over 60 percent of the West Bank is considered Area C where Israel retains control over security, planning and zoning.

Around 300,000 settlers live in Area C.

Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967.
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