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35 Palestinians left homeless by Israeli demolitions south of Hebron

April 6, 2016 9:50 A.M. (Updated: April 6, 2016 10:37 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished six structures in Khirbet Umm al-Kheir south of the West Bank city of Hebron, leaving 35 Palestinians homeless, locals said.

Umm al-Kheir resident Bilal al-Hathalin told Ma'an that bulldozers entered the village under heavy military protection and demolished six homes made of tin.

“This is the eighth time the occupation demolished homes in Umm al-Kheir,” local Suleiman al-Hathalin said, referring to the demolitions as “ethnic cleansing.”

“Thirty-five people have become homeless, while settlers of the illegal Karmel settlement are living a luxurious life only a few steps away from my home,” Suleiman said, adding that Israeli forces had demolished his home in effort to displace him.

“I had already become a refugee when I was displaced from my land in Arad [in 1948] and the occupation is now trying to displace me again,” Suleiman continued. “We will never leave,” he added.

The homes demolished Wednesday belonged to Adel Suleiman al-Hathalin, Khadra Suleiman al-Hathalin, Suleiman Eid al-Hathalin, Kheiri Suleiman al-Hathalin, Eid Suleiman al-Hathalin and Muatasim Suleiman al-Hathalin.

A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma'an: "Today, enforcement measures were taken against six illegal tin constructions which were built without the required permits in Umm al-Kheir, after having taken all appropriate orders before carrying out enforcement."

The Umm al-Kheir community has faced ongoing threat of displacement since the Karmel settlement was illegally established in 1981 and expanded onto villagers’ land.

Located in Area C -- the over 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control -- Palestinian applications for building permits from the Israeli authorities are rarely granted, forcing residents to build without proper permits

As a result, nearly every structure in the tiny community is deemed “illegal” by the Israeli authorities and liable for demolition.

Wednesday’s demolitions come amid the most extensive demolition campaigns in the occupied West Bank in the last seven years, which has left more than 650 Palestinians homeless in under three months, more than half of whom were children according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Monday slammed Israel after seven homes were torn down across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem the night before.

"This is another act of collective punishment committed by Israel against the Palestinian civilian population in violation of international law and Israel’s obligations as the belligerent occupying power," Erekat said.

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