United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on Israel to halt a plan to demolish some 13,000 Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank.
“As we have said repeatedly, the secretary general calls on the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon, told reporters in New York on Tuesday.
The UN chief also called on Israeli authorities “to revoke plans that would result in the forcible transfer of Palestinian communities, and to implement an inclusive planning and zoning regime that will enable Palestinians’ residential and community development needs to be met,” Dujarric added.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a Monday report that the Palestinian structures are currently under Israeli demolition orders, adding that the orders “leave affected households in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat.”
It also warned that the destruction of Palestinian homes leads to “displacement and disruption of livelihoods” among other things.
Tel Aviv claims the Palestinian structures are demolished because they were built without construction permits, but Palestinians argue such authorizations are routinely denied.
On September 3, Israel destroyed seven Palestinian structures in the East Tayba Bedouin community of the central West Bank, displacing nine Palestinians, including five children.
The Tel Aviv regime intensified the destruction of Palestinian homes last month, razing to the ground as many as 143 Palestinian structures, which is the highest such number in five years.
In August, 31 international organizations, including Oxfam and Amnesty International, criticized a “surge” in West Bank demolitions, saying Tel Aviv is using them to seize property for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.
More than half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank in 1967.
The settlements are considered illegal by the UN and many countries because the territories were occupied by Israel and are thus subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.