Israel demolishes Palestinian-owned homes in West Bank

UN report says a total of 41 structures including a school were destroyed south of Nablus displacing 36 Palestinians.

Demolishing a house in the West Bank
Since the beginning of 2016, Israel has demolished, on average, 29 Palestinian-owned buildings a week, according to the UN [EPA]

Israeli forces have demolished dozens of structures, including a school, in the northern West Bank this week, leaving 10 families homeless, according to a new United Nations report.

In as statement issued on Friday, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid said the demolitions took place on Wednesday in the village of Khirbet Tana, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

In total, 41 buildings were destroyed, displacing 36 Palestinians, including 11 children, the UN said.

“These are some of the highest levels of demolition and displacement recorded in a similar timeframe since 2009,” the statement said. 

READ MORE: House demolitions and Israel’s ‘court sanctioned revenge’

Khirbet Tana is home to approximately 250 people who rely on herding and agriculture for their livelihood, according to the report.

Because the residents need grazing land for their livestock, most have “little choice” but to stay in the area.

“Due to the community’s location within an area declared as a ‘firing zone’ for training purposes, residents are denied building permits and have experienced repeated waves of demolitions, the last one taking place on February 9,” the report said. 

Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said that last month the number of such demolitions had tripled on average since the start of the year.

“Since the beginning of 2016, Israel has demolished, on average, 29 Palestinian-owned structures per week, three times the weekly average for 2015,” he said.

‘Firing zones’

Last week, the European Union hit out at Israeli authorities after they demolished a school funded by the French government.

COGAT, the defence ministry body responsible for coordinating Israeli government activity in the Palestinian territories, put the number of buildings at 20.

In the West Bank, an estimated 18 percent of the area has been declared by the Israeli authorities as “firing zones”, and 38 Palestinian communities are located within these areas.

‘Collective punishment’ targets Palestinians

Because the Israeli Civil Administration prohibits building in these areas, wide-scale demolitions frequently take place.

The Israeli military is also frequently accused of carrying out punitive demolitions against the family homes of individuals suspected of attacks against Israelis.

While the Israeli military stopped punitive demolition orders in 2005, following reports by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks, the practice was resumed in July 2014.

Throughout occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, some 90,000 Palestinians are facing potential displacement, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies