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Condemnations pour in amid 200% increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes

Israeli troops demolish a Palestinian house in a village south of Yatta, in the southern area of the West Bank town of al-Khalil (Hebron), on November 2, 2020.(Photo by AFP)

Israel has stepped up its demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank in defiance of international law, sparking a wave of condemnation from across the world.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Arab League said the demolitions, which saw a 200 percent increase this year, were part of the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people amid the silence of the international community.

Arab League Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories Saeed Abu Ali said Israeli authorities razed over 76 buildings this week, including housing facilities owned by 11 Palestinian families, in Humsa al-Bqai’a Bedouin village in the northern Jordan Valley.

"This is the largest forced displacement operation in more than four years as three-quarters of the residents lost their homes... this is a blatant violation of the rules of international law and international covenants," he told the Palestinian WAFA news agency.

The demolitions coincide with Israeli threats to raze more than 52 Palestinian schools, including the Ras al-Teen School funded by the European Union, he added.

Abu Ali also warned that the Tel Aviv regime intends to demolish a neighborhood and a commercial market embracing more than 200 industrial and commercial establishments in Jerusalem al-Quds’ Wadi al-Joz district.

"The international community must confront this continuous and escalating Israeli aggression which not only targets the Palestinian people and their rights, but also violates the will of the international community, its charters and laws," he concluded.

Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Belgium speak out against Tel Aviv’s illegal measure

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry denounced the demolitions as “an illegal act that aims to displace Palestinians and destroy their land in severe violation to international agreements.”

It further urged the international community to “move swiftly to protect the Palestinian people from the dangers of forced and mass displacement, and hold the occupation accountable for these severe violations.”

Additionally, Egypt estimated in a statement that the Humsa al-Bqai’a demolitions had caused the displacement of dozens of Palestinian people, including children.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez stressed that the Israeli practice constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law and exacerbates the difficult conditions endured by the Palestinian nation.

“This further aggravates challenges related to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to hindering the two-state solution and chances of reaching a comprehensive and just peace and achieving stability in the region,” Hafez said.  

Similarly, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dhaifallah al-Fayez said the unlawful seizure of lands, demolition of homes and expulsion of residents are a flagrant breach of the international humanitarian law, and Israel's obligations as an occupying power.

He also called on the international community to pressure the occupying regime to stop its illegal actions, which run against peace efforts.

Belgium, European officials call for suspension of demolitions

Belgium condemned Israel’s destruction of Brussels-funded West Bank homes and urged Israel to refrain from destroying Palestinian schools and compensate the people affected by the demolition campaign.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry said a number of homes in the village of al-Rakeez, south of al-Khalial (Hebron), have been demolished by Israeli authorities in violation of humanitarian international laws.

“Our country asks Israel for compensation or restitution for these destructions,” it said in a statement, calling on Tel Aviv “not to execute the demolition orders for the schools in Ras al-Teen, Jinba and Khirbet al-Fakheit, as well as to safeguard all 52 schools in the West Bank at risk of demolition.”

Belgium, it added, has on several occasions expressed concern about “the alarming increase in the number of demolitions and seizures of structures and humanitarian projects in area C in the West Bank.”

“We reiterate that the demolition of infrastructure and housing in the occupied West Bank is contrary to international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel's obligations as occupying power and UN Security Council resolutions,” the ministry underlined.

“Finally, Belgium is particularly concerned about the demolition of schools. Palestinian children, like all children in the world, have a right to education. A right guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, EU representative to Palestine, called on Israel to stop demolitions in vulnerable Palestinian communities.

“Displacing the communities would be in contravention with Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law,” he said.

A British consulate spokesman in Jerusalem al-Quds said Israeli demolitions and evictions cause “unnecessary suffering” to the Palestinians and damage the prospects of the so-called two-state solution.

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