Israel has increased by more than five times the rate at which it tears down Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank’s biggest administrative division.
According to the daily Ha’aretz, Tel Aviv was now demolishing 49 Palestinian residences in so-called Area C every week, compared to nine in 2015.
The demolitions have rendered more than 480 Palestinians, including 220 children, homeless so far this year, it added.
As many as 104 European-funded homes have been razed to the ground in 2016, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported, saying the rate almost equaled that for the entire 2015.
Area C covers 360,000 hectares (890,000 acres) of land, equal to 60 percent of the West Bank’s area. An estimated 298,000 Palestinians are living in the area, together with 341,000 Israelis in 135 settlements and about 100 outposts.
Israel has earmarked less than one percent of the terrain for Palestinian development, in comparison with 70 percent to its construction of illegal settlements.
Commenting on the circumstances surrounding the demolitions, UN official Robert Piper said, “Most of the demolitions in the West Bank take place on the spurious legal grounds that Palestinians do not possess building permits.”
“But in Area C, official Israeli figures indicate only 1.5 percent of Palestinian permit applications are approved in any case. So what legal options are left for a law-abiding Palestinian?” he added.
Piper is the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Some Palestinians, meanwhile, quip that Israel is destroying their homes even as their dates of birth go back to before 1948, when Israel claimed existence following the large-scale occupation of Arab territories.
“My mother gave birth to me in this cave in 1936,” said Radwan Qassem of the Khirbet Tana Village in northern West Bank. “I’m older than” Israel “and it does not allow me to live here.”
Flooding lands and homes in Gaza
On Monday, the Palestinian Authority’s news agency WAFA reported that the Israeli army had deliberately opened a number of dams in central Gaza Strip, flooding large portions of Palestinian land and several homes. Rainfall raises the water levels behind the structures during the winter and the army repeatedly opens the dams without prior notice, inflicting considerable material damage on Palestinian properties and causing many injuries on people.