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Israel demolishes Palestinian structures in West Bank

Sept. 2, 2014 10:36 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 4, 2014 6:18 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished a dairy factory in Hebron and Bedouin homes east of Jerusalem early Tuesday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Locals said Israeli troops escorted two bulldozers and two excavators to the al-Rama neighborhood in northern Hebron and began demolishing the factory, which is owned by Hebron's Islamic Charitable Society.

Journalists and bystanders were not allowed to approach the area which the Israeli army declared a closed military zone during the demolition, witnesses said.

Hatim al-Bakri, who chairs the board of directors of the Islamic Charitable Society, said the damages inflicted a loss of "about 2 million US dollars."

"Services the Charitable Society offers to orphans in the Hebron district will be badly affected," al-Bakri said.

He said Israeli forces had confiscated the factory's belongings during the month of Ramadan.

Israel accuses the organization of being tied to Hamas, he added.

Separately, a Ma'an reporter said Israeli forces demolished Palestinian homes and structures near Jabaa village east of Jerusalem.

Bulldozers demolished five houses, four steel structures, and a barn that belonged to Bedouin families.

Local resident Jumaa Suleiman al-Maazi said bulldozers and military vehicles showed up without warning and demolished his house, where he said nine people lived.

Al-Maazi said he had received a demolition notice weeks earlier, but that there was no official "judicial order."

Eighteen Bedouin families have lived in the area since 1947, he said, adding that locals have been continuously threatened by Israeli settlers nearby.

A spokeswoman for Israel's civil administration told Ma'an via email that Israeli forces on Tuesday "carried out the demolition of an illegal building which was built without the necessary permits in the Hebron area."

"The building was demolished after the appropriate enforcement procedure was completed and a demolition order was delivered."

The spokeswoman also confirmed the demolitions in Jabaa. She said five buildings were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

"The buildings were demolished after 45 days were given to the residents to apply for a building permit. After this wasn't completed, it was decided to enforce the existing demolition orders on these buildings."

Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in the West Bank, and regularly demolishes structures built without permits.

In May, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah urged Israel to halt home demolitions in Area C of the West Bank, describing such actions as "forced transfer of population and demolitions of Palestinian housing and infrastructure."

Israel has demolished 359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank so far in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Some 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished by Israel since it occupied the West Bank in 1967.
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