ISRAELI forces on Wednesday ordered all Palestinian residents of Khirbit Tana, east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, to leave their homes to allow for military drill in that area, a local official said.
Aref Hanini, mayor of the nearby town of Beit Furik, said that Israeli forces evicted 30 Palestinian families from Khirbit Tana, located in Area C, and ordered them out of their homes between 5 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. More than 300 Palestinians live in caves and other temporary structures in the area.
Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem demolished a Palestinian-owned building in Beit Hanina, an Arab neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, local sources said. The municipality claimed the building, owned by Lu’ay Abu Romouz, was built without a permit. Israeli police sealed off the area before and during the demolition to prevent people from reaching it, said the sources.
Home demolitions in East Jerusalem have surged since the beginning of this year with the right-wing municipality vowing to demolish all Palestinian buildings built without permits. Two weeks ago, Israeli bulldozers demolished two Palestinian-owned buildings in Beit Hanina under the same pretext. One of them was still under construction.
While Palestinians in Jerusalem say they are forced to build structures and buildings without a permit as the Israeli municipality doesn’t issue permits for them, Jewish settlers are regularly given the approval of constructing more housing units in Jewish-only settlements.
Also on Wednesday Israeli forces detained 15 Palestinians including a woman across the West Bank districts and six others in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported.
Seven were detained from the Hebron area, including two former prisoners, while five others, including Joudeh Oweida, a 45-year-old mother of a Palestinian detainee, were detained in Beita in the Nablus district. Forces detained two Palestinians in Jenin and one from Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp, while Israeli police also detained six Palestinian youths in East Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighbourhood.
Israeli forces delivered ‘demolition notices’ to dozens of residents in Palestinian localities in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron. Ratib al-Jabour, who monitors settlement construction in southern Hebron, said Israeli forces informed residents of Khirbet al-Fakheit, Khirbet al-Tabban, Khirbet al-Majaz, al-Halawa, al-Markiz and Janba localities of their intention to uproot them.
Israeli soldiers took photographs of the structures, including tents, water wells and a local secondary school, and placed demolition notices in the area.
The structures belong to the Muhammad, Abu Sabha, al-Hamamda and Abu Eram families.
The six localities are part of Masafer Yatta, a collection of almost 19 hamlets to the south of Hebron, which rely heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood. Located in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, under full Israeli administrative and military control, the area has been subjected to repeated Israeli violations by settlers and soldiers targeting their main source of living – livestock.
Israeli violations against the area include demolitions of animal barns, homes and residential structures. Issuance of construction permits by Israel to local Palestinians in the area is non-existent. The PPS also said on Wednesday that the Israeli military court, Ofer, reinstated a previous verdict on a Palestinian prisoner who was earlier released during a prisoners’ exchange deal.
The court decided to reinstate Nael Barghouthi’s previous life sentence and 18 years, after spending 36 years in jail and being released as part of a 2011 prisoner-swap deal between Hamas and Israel. The deal led to the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including Barghouthi, in exchange of releasing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive for over five years by Hamas in a cross border raid.
Barghouthi, who is also known as the ‘dean of prisoners’, was arrested at the age of 19 in 1978 along with his older brother Omar and cousin Fakhri for planning and executing an operation against Israel’s occupation. Head of the prisoners and ex-prisoners committee, Issa Qaraqe, said the military court’s decision to reinstate the verdict is an act of revenge and racist.
‘It is an indication of Israel’s systematic policy of targeting released prisoners and detaining them without a valid reason.’ He said the verdict is part of an ongoing effort by Israel to detain released prisoners since 2014. Since then Israel has detained 63 prisoners and reinstated their past verdicts.
• The Palestinian government on Wednesday launched the Palestine National Policy Agenda (NPA) for 2017-2022, which Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said puts the Palestinian citizen first. Speaking at the launch event held in Ramallah in the presence of Palestinian and international guests, including United Nations Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov and European Union representative in Jerusalem Ralph Tarraf, Hamdallah said the NPA’s ‘Putting Citizens First,’ is a programme to develop the people and achieve freedom and progress.
The purpose of the NPA ‘is to provide basic quality services to all our people, regardless of where they live, and to strengthen their steadfastness, particularly in Area C (of the West Bank), East Jerusalem, the capital of the independent State of Palestine, and in the Gaza Strip,’ he said. ‘The agenda is based on three tracks: The road to independence, reforms and improving quality of services, and sustainable development,’ said Hamdallah.
The prime minister said that even though international donor aid has dropped by 70 per cent, his government was nevertheless able to overcome this hurdle, as witnessed in reports by international organisations, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He said that if Israel allows the Palestinians to benefit from Area C, which makes up 60 per cent of the area of the West Bank and is under Israeli military control, investment in this area would bring in $3.5 billion a year to the Palestinians, as confirmed by World Bank reports. He urged the international community to help the Palestinians get rid of Israeli control over Area C.
Speaking at the same event, UN Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov congratulated the Palestinian government ‘for finalising an ambitious policy agenda for Palestine that articulates a strong, clear vision for the Palestinian people.’
He said the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2018-2022, currently being developed, will be aligned with the NPA and support the strategic priorities of statehood, governance reform, as well as economic and social development.
‘I applaud the government of Palestine for aligning the NPA with global imperatives – including the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda – and for “putting citizens first”. This is smart governance,’ he said. This is a step in the right direction that tangibly demonstrates the Palestinian commitment to advancing the two-state solution,’ said the UN official.