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12 Jul, 2018

UN: Jewish state demolished 197 Palestinian structures in occupied territories in first half of 2018

JERUSALEM, July 11, 2018 (WAFA) – The Israeli authorities demolished 197 Palestinian structures in the occupied territories during the first half of 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said on Wednesday.

It said in its monthly report on West Bank demolitions and displacement for the month of June that demolitions and seizures resumed in mid-June, following the end of the Muslim holy fasting  month of Ramadan, with a total of 22 Palestinian-owned structures targeted, displacing 10 Palestinians and otherwise affecting more than 120.

These incidents bring the total number of structures demolished or seized in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities in the first half of 2018 to 197, a 22 per cent decline compared to the equivalent period in 2017, a decline by 42 percent in the West Bank’s Area C demolitions, alongside an increase of 12 percent in East Jerusalem.

All but two of the structures demolished or seized during June were in East Jerusalem, including eight homes,10 livelihood-related structures and four retaining walls or fences.

Of note, due to a series of amendments to the 1965 Planning and Building Law, applied in Israel and East Jerusalem, approved by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in October 2017, fines imposed on individuals charged with building without a permit can reach up to 400,000 Israeli shekels as opposed to tens of thousands of shekels previously.

In Area C, which remained under full Israeli military and administrative control, one structure was demolished during the month in a herding community located in an area in southern Hebron (Masafer Yatta) designated by Israel as a “firing zone” for military training. This is one of the 12 communities in this area (total 1,300 people), which are at heightened risk of forcible transfer due to the coercive environment imposed on them.

Also in June, the Israeli authorities announced that they will suspend the implementation of a new military order, which would have allowed the demolition of unlicensed structures that are deemed “new”, within 96 hours of the issuance of a removal order. The suspension announcement followed the filing of a petition with the Israeli High Court against this human rights organizations, and will remain in place until a ruling is issued on the case.

No donor-funded structure was demolished or seized during June, said OCHA, but construction materials for finishing the building of a new school provided by the European Union were confiscated. A total of 27 donor-funded structures, worth around 60,960 euros, were targeted in the first half of 2018, one-third of the number of structures targeted in the same period of 2017 (81 structures).

A residential apartment was demolished in June on punitive grounds in Barta’a al-Sharqiya town in the Jenin district, in Area B, displacing a family of three. The home belonged to the family of a Palestinian who, in March 2018, hit with his car in what the individual involved insisted was a road accident two Israeli soldiers, killing them, and was subsequently arrested.