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Israeli forces seize medical caravan, demolish quarry in Hebron area

Dec. 13, 2016 2:56 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 13, 2016 8:06 P.M.)
Imneizil, Tuba, Hebron Hills (Maan Images / Charlie Hoyle)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday seized a caravan used as a medical clinic in the Bedouin village of al-Markaz in the Hebron hills in the southern occupied West Bank, and demolished a quarry in the Hebron-area village of al-Samu, according to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Wafa reported that soldiers raided al-Markaz and seized the medical clinic caravan that was given to residents by the Italian Cooperation as part of a humanitarian assistance package to Palestinians living in difficult conditions in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control.

According to Wafa, the medical clinic served residents of al-Markaz and the nearby village of al-Halaweh.

Residents told Wafa that Israel “does not want them to have a life” on their lands “in order to leave it for the benefit of expanding nearby Israeli settlements.”

A resident of the nearby Bedouin village of Masafer Yatta, which has been declared by Israel as a "restricted military zone," told Ma'an that the clinic served about 200 people from the cluster of Bedouin villages in the area.

He highlighted that al-Markaz was more than 13 kilometers away from the nearest medical center in the town of Yatta, and without the clinic, residents would have to travel on an unpaved dirt road, through 'Firing Zone 918,' in a private car in order to receive care.

A spokesperson from Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) -- the government entity responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied West Bank -- told Ma'an that "an enforcement took place against two illegal transportable structures that were placed a couple of days ago in Firing Rage (sic) 918."

Meanwhile, Wafa reported that Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian-owned quarry in the town of al-Samu in the Hebron district.

A bulldozer, accompanied by Israeli forces, raided the quarry owned by Muhammad Daghamin and “leveled the quarry and destroyed everything there,” under the pretext that it was constructed, presumably without a permit, in Area C.

Daghanim told Wafa that soldiers had raided the same quarry a few months ago and seized its machines. Forces returned the machines after Daghanim paid around $13,000 for their return.

The COGAT spokesperson told Ma’an that “an enforcement took place against an illegal quarry in the Samoa area of Judea and Samaria that was damaging the environment of the surrounding area,” using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.

COGAT went on to add that the quarry was being operated without proper permits and that tools were confiscated during the operation, only to be returned to their owners after they paid a fine.

Separately, Israeli forces on Monday afternoon notified a Palestinian man from the town of Idhna west of Hebron that two houses he owned in Area C were slated for demolition.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli troops stormed the Jurat Salim area in the northern suburbs of Idhna and delivered demolition notices to Muhammad Hasan Muhammad Salih.

COGAT confirmed that a demolition notice was delivered for homes "built without the required permits."

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in Area C, forcing most Palestinians to build without permits.

All building in Area C, whether by Palestinians or Jewish settlers, comes under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Civil Administration, which has full control over all zoning and planning issues.

In practice, almost all Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected, with the Civil Administration granting only a handful of permits.

Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge this year, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.

At least 1,569 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 757 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.

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