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Intl. NGO urges Biden to end Israel's land grab, displacement of Palestinians as he visits Middle East

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli forces walk at the site of a demolished house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East al-Quds on January 19, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

An international refugee charity has called on US President Joe Biden to help put an end to the Israeli regime’s destruction of Palestinian-owned buildings and displacement of hundreds of residents from their homes as he visits the occupied territories and Saudi Arabia this week.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement on Tuesday that Israeli authorities have increased both settlement expansion and demolition activities across the West Bank and East al-Quds in the first six months of the current year.

It added that the Tel Aviv regime has endorsed plans for the construction of 4,427 housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and the number marks a sharp increase from 3,645 units approved throughout last year.

“This visit presents a good opportunity for President Biden and the US to demand a stop to the systemic and daily violations against Palestinians, especially evictions and demolitions that continue to destroy homes and lives,” NRC’s Middle East Regional Director Carsten Hansen said.

According to a recent analysis by NRC, Israeli officials have displaced an average of three Palestinians for each day that Biden has spent in office since January last year.

It noted that the Israeli regime has demolished 18 structures and displaced 17 Palestinians ever since prime minister Yair Lapid assumed office earlier this month.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says a total of 1,657 people have been displaced as a result of demolition of 1,269 Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank, including East al-Quds.

“Behind these numbers are real stories of human displacement, of families being evicted with nowhere to go, of children looking on as bulldozers ram through the only home they have ever known. As one of the world’s most powerful allies of Israel, US and President Biden must prioritize the plight of the Palestinians during his visit to the region,” Hansen said.

NRC also urged Biden to demand Israel issue a moratorium on expulsion and forcible transfer of Palestinians and the expansion of illegal settlements.

Last week, OCHA warned that the Israeli regime’s forcible mass eviction of approximately 1,200 Palestinians from their homes in the Masafer Yatta area of the occupied West Bank amounts to a “war crime.”

The UN body said in a statement on July 7 that “evictions that lead to displacement, if enforced, amount to forced forcible deportation and a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and therefore constitute a war crime.”

“The international humanitarian law imposes an absolute prohibition on the forcible transfer of civilians from or within the occupied Palestinian territories, and that Israeli authorities must put an end to all coercive measures, including planned evictions, demolitions, and military training in it,” OCHA said.

Between 600,000 and 750,000 Israelis occupy over 250 illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital. 

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014, with Israel’s continued settlement expansion emerging as a key sticking point.

All Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law as they are built on the occupied land. 

The UN Security Council has time and again condemned the occupying regime’s diabolic settler-colonialism project in its umpteen resolutions.

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