A PALESTINIAN on Wednesday morning was forced to demolish his own house in Beit Hanina, north of Jerusalem, reported WAFA’s correspondent.
Following an Israeli court issuing a demolition order for the house for being built without a license, Imad Jaber was forced to demolish his 70-metre-square house. ‘I demolished it with my own hands to avoid paying over NIS 70,000 ($18,000) in demolition fees if Israeli bulldozers demolished it,’ he said.
This came a day after a spate of demolitions of Palestinian property by Israeli forces across the West Bank. Israeli bulldozers demolished two apartments and a restaurant in the Jerusalem neighbourhoods of al-Tur and Beit Safafa, a classroom in Abu Nuwwar community, which is a part of ‘E1 corridor’, three rooms in the Bethlehem town of Beit Jala, and water wells in the Hebron town of Sair.
There has been an upsurge in demolitions of Palestinian property across the West Bank as the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 exceeded the total number of demolitions in the entire previous year 2015.
‘From January to the end of June 2016, the Civil Administration demolished 168 homes in the West Bank, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless – 384 of them minors,’ said the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the occupied Territories (B’Tselem).
Despite filing applications, Palestinians in the West Bank, especially East Jerusalem and Area C, are rarely granted construction permits by Israeli authorities. As a result, they are forced to embark on construction without obtaining rarely-granted permits.
Israel frequently utilises the lack of construction permits as a pretext for demolishing Palestinian houses.
Many humanitarian and legal bodies have maintained that Israel has been adopting planning policies discriminatory against Palestinians in West Bank Area C and East Jerusalem, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain building permits.
‘As a result, many Palestinians build without permits to meet their housing needs and risk having their structures demolished. Palestinians must have the opportunity to participate in a fair and equitable planning system that ensures their needs are met,’ OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) reports.
Although Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognised Palestinian Territory that has been subject to Israeli military occupation since 1967, they are denied their citizenship rights and are instead classified only as ‘residents’ whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
They are also discriminated against in all aspects of life including housing, employment and services, and are unable to access services in the West Bank due to the construction of Israel’s separation wall. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah strongly condemned on Wednesday the ‘ongoing large-scale’ demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
‘Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes, schools and water cisterns is not only unlawful but also immoral. Our people will not be deterred from living on their ancestral lands,’ he said.
In the past few days, Israeli forces demolished homes and animal structures in Khirbet Tell el Himma in the Jordan Valley, a residential building in At Tur, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood, a classroom belonging to the Abu Nuwar Bedouin community in East Jerusalem, an animal shelter in Beit Dajan in the Nablus area, water cisterns in Jurat al Kheil in Sa”ir, near Hebron, and barracks in Khan al Ahmar in East Jerusalem, according to OCHA.
The international community has condemned Israel’s destruction of Palestinian property, with the most recent statement coming from the Middle East Quartet, expressing ‘its grave concern’ over ‘the continued high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures, (which) are steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution.’
But in spite of the international criticism, Israel is stepping up its efforts to destroy Palestinian homes. ‘Israel continues to act above the law,’ said Jamal Dajani, director of Strategic Communications and Media at the Prime Minister’s Office. ”Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, destruction of private property is prohibited.
Devastating Palestinian communities to pave the way for more illegal Israeli settlements does not constitute implementation of ‘the rule of law,’ as Israeli officials claim,’ Dajani added.
This year alone, Israeli authorities demolished 820 homes and other structures, leaving 1,120 people homeless, many of whom are children. Some of the demolished structures are emergency shelters provided by the international community after previous demolitions, as was the case in Al Aqaba village, where Israel recently destroyed five donor-funded shelters.
l Israeli forces detained 17 Palestinians, including minors, during large-scale military raids carried out across the West Bank and Jerusalem, Wednesday said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said that 12 Palestinians, including two minors, were detained in the Jerusalem area.
In Tulkarem, Israeli soldiers detained a Palestinian aged 19. In Jericho, forces detained three Palestinians, including a minor aged 15. Forces also detained a Palestinian in Qalqilia. This brings the total number of Palestinians detained on Wednesday to 38.
• The spate of demolitions of Palestinian property by Israeli forces across the West Bank hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies on Wednesday. Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israeli forces demolished Palestinian apartments, agricultural structures and a classroom in Jerusalem, Hebron and the Jordan Valley.
Israeli bulldozers demolished two apartments in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of al-Tur and a restaurant in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Safafa. Bulldozers also demolished a classroom in Abu Nuwwar community, which is a part of ‘E1 corridor’, east of Jerusalem, three rooms, including a kitchen, in Beit Jala, and water wells in the Hebron town of Sair.
Furthermore, the dailies said Israeli Supreme Court approved a military decision to demolish the family home of a Palestinian detainee from Nablus for purportedly being involved in a drive-by shooting of an Israeli settlers near Itamar settlement the last year.
Highlighting Fatah Central Committee’s meeting in Ramallah, al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported President Mahmoud Abbas stating that Palestinians were highly involved in the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit in Caracas and UN General Assembly’s session. Al-Ayyam reported Abbas as reiterating the importance of turning the French bid to convene an international Middle East peace conference into success.
The dailies said the Palestinian cabinet ratified the social security law and submitted it to Abbas for signing it into a law. The dailies said Palestinian mourners attended the funeral procession of Yasser Hamduna, who died of an apparent heart attack in an Israeli detention centre, in the Jenin town of Yaabad.
Highlighting a public opinion poll by Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) on the Supreme Court’s decision to stop local elections, al-Quds said the majority viewed the decision as politically motivated. It showed that Palestinian public support for armed intifada dropped and pessimism toward the chances of success of the French initiative.