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19 Sep, 2015

Israel Demolishes Homes of 228 Palestinans in August 2015, Says Rights Center

JERUSALEM, September 9, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli information center for human rights, B’Tselem, said during August alone, the Israeli Civil Administration and military went on a demolition rampage in 29 villages and communities throughout Area C, under full Israeli military control.

In its September report, B’Tselem said the Israeli authorities demolished 101 structures in the aforementioned communities, including 50 residential structures, which were home to 228 people, 124 of them are minors.

“Many of these demolitions were carried out in small shepherding and farming communities where residents are constantly subject to threats and ongoing Israeli attempts to drive them out of their homes and also remove them from Area C, as part of the Israeli policy aimed at minimizing Palestinian presence in Area C,” stated the center.

Between 5 and 31 August 2015, B’Tselem documented demolitions carried out by the Civil Administration and the military in nine communities in the Jordan Valley, including in al-‘Aqabah, ‘Ein al-Meyteh, Khirbet Yarza, Khirbet Humsah, Abu al-‘Ajaj, Fasayil, Khirbet ‘Einun, Khirbet Samrah and Khirbet a-Deir, where the authorities destroyed 22 residential units, rendering 100 people – including 50 minors – homeless.

Over the years, Israeli government and military officials have openly spoken about the intention to keep the Jordan Valley under Israeli control even under a future agreement with the Palestinians, said the center, stressing that, “The recent demolitions are part of this policy.”

The center said Israel has never drafted master plans for these communities and residents living in tents and shacks, without running water or a connection to the power grid, under the constant threat of imminent demolition and expulsion.

“Along with demolitions, Israel also uses other measures to inconvenience residents and ultimately make life in the area impossible, including such steps as declaring 46% of the Jordan Valley a firing zone, temporally forcing families out of their homes to make way to enable military training and confiscating water tanks.”

August also saw Israeli authorities demolishing structures in five communities in the Ma’ale Adumim area, including in a-Sheikh ‘Anbar (a-S‘idi), Bir al-Maskub, Wadi Esneisel, Abu Falah and al-Khdeirat. “Like the Jordan Valley communities, these communities are not officially recognized either,” noted the center.

The center considered these extensive demolitions as part of Israel’s overall policy toward Area C – which comprises 60% of the West Bank – based on its perception of Area C as meant primarily to serve Israeli needs. Israel works to establish facts on the ground, creating a reality that would be difficult to change as part of a future agreement.

At the same time, in pursuit of a policy practiced by successive Israeli governments, Israeli authorities take action designed to force out and expel Palestinian residents from Area C, citing flimsy legal arguments such as “illegal construction” – an argument that holds no water given that there is no real possibility of building legally, stated B’Tselem.

“These arguments are meant to obscure the fact that Israel is ignoring its duties as an occupying power, namely allowing West Bank residents live their lives without disruption and ensuring the development of their communities to a level that allows them to live in dignity and meets their needs.”

This government policy, which has been systematically implemented for years, constitutes the forcible transfer of protected persons inside an occupied territory, be it directly – through the demolition of their homes – or indirectly, by creating an intolerable reality, concluded the center.