UN slams Israel on West Bank home demolitions

Israel destroyed 30 Palestinian properties in occupied territory, displacing families for second time in two weeks.

    Israel's demolition of homes in the occupied West Bank targets Palestinian families, the UN says [File: AP]
    Israel's demolition of homes in the occupied West Bank targets Palestinian families, the UN says [File: AP]

    The United Nations has condemned Israel's demolition of 30 Palestinian properties in the occupied West Bank, saying it displaced families for the second time in less than two weeks.

    "I am concerned about the destruction of Palestinian structures in the Jordan Valley yesterday," UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "The demolitions resulted in the displacement of 41 people, including 24 children, and affected another 20. Both refugee and non-refugee families were affected." the statement added.

    Demolitions often occur to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements

    Joint statement from rights groups and charities

    "Some of the families were displaced for the second time this month and a number of donor-funded structures were among those demolished."

    Israel's civilian administration of the occupied West Bank had no immediate comment on the demolitions.

    A group of 36 NGOs last week urged Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes, hours ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry aimed at revitalising Middle East peace talks.

    "Demolitions often occur to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, with 60 percent of demolitions occurring in Palestinian communities close to settlement zones," rights groups and charities including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement.

    "Since the resumption of the peace process in July, Israel has destroyed 207 Palestinian homes and property in the occupied West Bank, displacing 311 Palestinians, over half of whom are children," they said.

    Dutch firm cuts ties

    Meanwhile, Dutch water supplier Vitens has ended a partnership with Israeli water company Mekorot due to the "political context", the Dutch company said on Wednesday.

    The decision comes days after a visit to the Mekorot offices in Israel by the Dutch Trade Minister Lilianne Ploumen was abruptly cancelled.

    In a statement, Vitens said it had come to the conclusion that it was "extremely hard" to work with Mekorot on future projects "because they cannot be taken out of the political context".

    Mekorot, which provides water to Israelis and to Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, has been accused by Dutch media of denying water access to Palestinians.

    According to the World Bank, a third of Palestinian territories are cut off from the Israeli water system and Israelis draw out a far bigger share of the water supply than agreed in the 1995 Oslo II accord.

    But last week Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians signed a water-sharing initiative at the World Bank that could see the building of a desalination plant and a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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