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Israeli authorities force Palestinian man to demolish own barn near Nablus

Aug. 8, 2016 3:53 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 2:25 P.M.)
Nablus (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian man to demolish a barn on his farm Monday in the area of Sabastiya west of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, after forces threatened the night before to demolish it with military bulldozers and charge a fee if he failed to do so himself.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that Israeli forces previously gave a demolition notice to Abdullah Jamal for his 400-square-meter barn and cattle farm in the western part of the village.

Daghlas added that Israeli forces enforced the demolition without a court order, highlighting the fact that Jamal had filed a suit in Israeli courts, which had yet to make a ruling on his appeal.

Jamal built the barn in order to raise cattle and sheep, his main source of income.

He was forced to demolish it himself to keep his livestock, and to avoid paying a demolition fee to Israeli authorities, as he was already set to lose tens of thousands of shekels with the loss of the barn.

A spokesperson for Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government's policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.

The village of Sabastiya, located some 12 kilometers outside the city of Nablus, is the site of ancient ruins dating back 3,000 years, and was listed in the Oslo Accords among the archaeological sites of importance to Israel and designated a “national park.”

Thus, the park and much of the village’s land -- nearly 42 percent -- were designated as Area C, where Israel retains full control over security and civil administration, while the rest was designated as Area B, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) officially has control over civil matters, but Israeli forces continues to have overriding responsibility for security

In Area C, Palestinian building and land management are prohibited unless through a permit given by the Israeli Civil Administration.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel only granted 33 building permits out of 2,020 applications submitted by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.

The refusal to grant permits by Israeli authorities has forced many Palestinians to build without permission, at the risk of seeing their homes or structures demolished.

Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the West Bank in the first six months of 2016 as they did in all of 2015, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed in a report released recently, in a worrying confirmation of Israel’s ongoing crackdown on Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank.

A total of 168 homes were destroyed during the first half of 2016 for lacking hard to obtain Israeli-issued building permits, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless, compared to all of 2015, when 125 homes were demolished, leaving 496 Palestinians without a home.

Beyond homes, B’Tselem highlighted the fact that Israeli authorities also demolished structures Palestinians depended on for their livelihoods, such as livestock pens, sheds, and bathroom facilities, and confiscated solar panels, and water tanks.

“In doing so, the Civil Administration not only leaves these residents homeless but also severely lacking basic services and the ability to earn a living,” the report read.

Dov Khenin, a member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, denounced the demolitions as a deliberate move by the Israeli government to annex parts of Area C, which represents more than 60 percent of the West Bank.

“Demolishing houses, water tanks, and solar panels does not happen by coincidence or by mistake,” he said during a Knesset conference at the end of July. “It is an organized policy that aims to change the current political condition, force Palestinians to leave the area and annex parts of Area C to prevent the two-state solution. Therefore, it is no longer a human rights case but a first-degree political case.”
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