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Israel demolishes 9 Palestinian structures in Jordan Valley

Jan. 23, 2017 5:14 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 24, 2017 12:57 P.M.)
Bedouin shepherds walk past tents set up in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho. (AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces demolished at least nine Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank district of Jericho on Monday morning.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the demolitions took place in the village of Khirbet al-Kurzaliya in the Jordan Valley, near the town of Jiftlik Abu al-Aajaj.

A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that “enforcement” measures were carried out against nine structures in Jiftlik for being built without Israel-issued permits.

The spokesperson added that the structures had been previously demolished, and that they were located in a “firing zone.”

Rights groups have said that Israeli military training zones, known as a "firing zones," are used as a pretext to fully annex portions of the occupied West Bank.

Nearly 20 percent of the occupied West Bank has been declared "firing zones" since the 1970s, but according to the UN, nearly 80 percent of these areas are not in fact used for military training. However, when military training does take place, Israel forces families to leave their homes for hours or days at a time until the drill is over.

Communities that find themselves inside declared "firing zones" face a high risk of losing their livelihoods, homes, and schools.

Forming a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C -- under full Israeli military control -- the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel's occupation in 1967.

Israeli forces have carried out demolitions and confiscations in the Jordan Valley on at least four other occasions since the beginning of the year -- demolishing homes, a school, water pipelines, and confiscating tractors.

Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies.

Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build in land classified as Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control -- leaving residents no choice but to build their homes without permits who “live in constant fear of their homes and livelihoods being destroyed,” Israeli rights group B’Tselem has said.
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