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EU missions condemn Israeli demolitions of Palestinian structures in Area C

Feb. 22, 2017 3:56 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 22, 2017 7:29 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The European Union (EU) Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah released a statement Wednesday condemning the ongoing and increasing Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and structures in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military control.

The statement began by deploring the demolition and stop-work orders that have been handed down by Israeli forces in Area C so far in 2017, and highlighted the increasing threat of demolition and forcible displacement faced by Palestinians living in Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the central occupied West Bank Jerusalem district.

“So far in 2017, 218 Palestinians have been displaced due to demolitions, confiscations, and evictions of 135 structures in Area C only,” the statement said, adding that more than half of those displaced were children.

In occupied East Jerusalem, 63 Palestinians -- 31 of whom were children -- have been displaced due to demolitions, confiscations, and evictions of 31 structures in 2017, according to the EU missions.

The statement went on to highlight the record-high amount of Israeli-enforced demolitions of Palestinian structures in 2016, saying that “6,088 Palestinians were affected by 872 demolitions in Area C, among whom 1,663 were children.”

“Humanitarian structures provided by the EU or EU member states worth approximately 536,000 euros (approximately $563,622) were destroyed or confiscated. EU humanitarian activities are carried out in full accordance with international humanitarian law, with the sole aim of providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable population,” the statement said.

The EU missions concluded their statement by calling upon Israeli authorities to halt the demolition of Palestinian homes and property “in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.”

According to the UN, the “vast majority” of Palestinian structures affected by Israeli demolition and confiscation policies in 2016 were destroyed or seized for lacking Israeli-issued building permits, according to the report.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, forcing most Palestinians to build illegally. However the 550,000 Jewish settlers residing in illegal Israeli settlements scattered across Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

According to UN documentation, as of Feb. 6, at least 105 Palestinian structures in Area C have been destroyed since the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has continued to fast-track settlement construction and has approved thousands of more settler housing units since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, despite routine condemnation from the international community.
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