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Israel demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in southern Hebron hills

Oct. 19, 2017 1:26 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 20, 2017 5:27 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian houses in the Halaweh village, located in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, according to local sources.

Ratib al-Jabour, a coordinator of the National and Popular Committees in the southern West Bank told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the village Thursday morning and demolished two houses belonging to Muhammad Younis Abu Aram and Khalil Younis Abu Aram.

Al-Jabour said that Israeli authorities claimed that two houses were built without difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permits. He pointing out that there is an ongoing case in Israeli courts regarding the two homes, but that it was destroyed anyways.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the agency responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an that an "enforcement was carried out this morning against two illegal constructions in the village of Halawa, which were built illegally without the required permits."

"It should be emphasized that the constructions were built in a military firing zone, and that residing in these areas is a significant risk to life. The enforcement was carried out after all the orders were served and the required approvals were obtained," the spokesperson said.

Halaweh village is located in the southern Hebron hills, and according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, is located within a closed Israeli military zone called “Firing Area 918.”

Last year, several homes in the Halaweh and the nearby Jinba village were destroyed, displacing 78 Palestinians, including 60 children.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Halaweh is one of 12 villages in the area that have been waging a legal battle for 17 years in an attempt to prevent the demolition of their village and the forcible displacement of their families so the villages can be used as Israeli army training areas.

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, some 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.

According to United Nations documentation, 326 Palestinians were displaced and 238 buildings have been demolished in the West Bank since the beginning of the year as of Oct. 9. Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem reached a record high in 2016.
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