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PM condemns Israel's 'deliberate' destruction of EU-funded structures

Feb. 25, 2016 4:19 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 26, 2016 10:58 A.M.)
Ruins of structure donated by the EU in community of Fasayil, 10 Feb. 2016. (B'Tselem/Aref Daraghmeh, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Thursday condemned Israel's "deliberate" destruction of EU-funded structures in the occupied Palestinian territory, as he called on the international community to take action.

"Israel must be held accountable for its deliberate targeting of EU-funded humanitarian aid structures built for the Bedouin communities in Area C," the prime minister said in a statement.

He accused Israel of destroying EU-funded structures "in an apparent retaliation for the EU guidelines on indication of origin products from Israeli settlements."

He called for an "immediate intervention by the international community to put an end to the destruction of Palestinian-owned property in Area C," referring to more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank where Israel has full military and civil control.

Recent weeks have seen a dramatic surge in home demolitions carried out by Israeli forces, with nearly 500 Palestinians left homeless since the beginning of the year.

Among the homes and structures destroyed were a number provided by the EU. Hamdallah's office drew particular attention to the demolition last week of an elementary school in the Abu Nuwwar Bedouin community east of Jerusalem, which was funded by France.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem, meanwhile, has highlighted a number of other cases of structures provided by the EU being torn down, and Israeli media reported earlier this month that the EU may seek compensation from Israel for donated structures demolished in the E1 corridor.

In November last year, the EU ruled that settlement goods could no longer be labeled "Made in Israel" and would instead have to indicate their origin in occupied territory.

Israel expressed outrage at the ruling, although no officials have publicly linked recent demolitions to the EU regulations.

Hamdallah's spokesperson, Jamal Dajani, said in the statement: "More than 480 Palestinians have lost their homes and were forcefully transferred -- equivalent to over half the total number of Palestinians displaced in all of 2015."

The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah have condemned the recent home demolitions, calling on Israel "to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C."

It reiterated its "strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including demolitions and confiscation, evictions, forced transfers, including of Bedouins, and restrictions of movement and access."
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