BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — During 2018, Israel demolished or seized 460 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, a 10% increase compared to 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory confirmed in a new report.
The OCHA report stated, “While in Area C, which makes over 60% of the area of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control, the number of structures targeted in both years was approximately the same and stood at 270, occupied East Jerusalem recorded a 25% increase compared to 2017. Of all structures targeted during 2018, 56 were donor-funded humanitarian aid structures, representing a 46% decline, compared to 2017 figures.”
In December, said OCHA’s monthly report on West Bank demolitions and displacement, “39 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities, the same as the 2018 monthly average, displacing 56 people and affecting over 270 others.”
OCHA added that two of this month’s demolitions were on punitive grounds and the rest were due to the lack of the difficult-to-obtain Israeli building permits.
The report confirmed that “about 70% of the structures targeted this month were in Area C. The largest incident took place on December 4th in the Beit Hanina – al-Marwaha neighborhood, a community on the ‘Jerusalem side’ of the wall barrier, where eight commercial structures were demolished and goods were confiscated.”
“Five families, who reported a financial loss of almost 1.5 million Israeli shekels (. $400,000), were affected. In another incident, the livelihoods of 70 people were affected by the demolition of a leather store on the margins of al-Bireh City near the Ramallah district.”
On December 5th, the Israeli authorities dismantled and seized two structures in the Hebron district to be used as a school for 45 students. Three tents erected subsequently by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to replace the targeted structures were also seized.
OCHA mentioned that this is the seventh case during 2018 where educational structures were targeted under the pretext of “lack of building permits.” It is estimated that 50 West Bank schools, 42 in Area C and eight in East Jerusalem, have pending demolition orders against all or part of their facilities, according to the Education Cluster.
“In East Jerusalem, nine structures were targeted during December, nearly half the monthly average during the rest of 2018.”
“In one incident, Palestinians were forced to demolish a 20 year-old building home to two families, comprising 14 people. The families reported that since the start of the legal proceedings, they have paid the municipality 160,000 shekels ($43,382) in fines, in addition to 25,000 shekels ($6,778) they spent on the demolition itself.”
“During the month, the Israeli military carried out two punitive demolitions, bringing the total in 2018 to six, compared to nine in 2017.”
In addition, the report mentioned that in al-Amari refugee camp in the Ramallah district, Israeli forces blew up and destroyed a four-story building and severely damaged two adjacent buildings, displacing 23 people, including six children. The targeted building was home to the family of a man who reportedly killed an Israeli soldier with a brick during a search operation in the camp in May 2018.