JERUSALEM, Wednesday, October 5, 2022 (WAFA) - The Israeli military authorities demolished or seized 134 Palestinian-owned structures in August, the highest this year, representing an over twofold increase compared with the average over the first seven months of the year of 65 structures, today said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its report on West Bank demolitions and displacement during July and August.
It said that in July and August, the Israeli occupation authorities demolished, seized or forced people to demolish 202 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Twenty-nine of these had been provided as donor-funded humanitarian aid. As a result, 216 people, including 105 children, were displaced, and the livelihoods or access to services of over 1,200 others were affected. All but 14 of the structures were targeted for lacking building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
Twelve of the structures demolished or seized in July and August were in herding communities in Israeli-designated ‘firing zones.’ Nearly 30 percent of Area C is designated as such, and the 38 Palestinian communities in these training areas are among the most vulnerable in the West Bank, with limited access to essential services and basic infrastructure, said OCHA.
In the herding communities of al Jiftlik al-Shuneh and Fasayil, both in Jericho, the Israeli authorities demolished eight structures, six of which had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions. Fourteen people were displaced and seven were otherwise affected. Additionally, in al Abaidiya and Umm Qussa, both in southern Hebron, and in Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar in Tubas, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of four structures. As a result, 23 people, including 17 children, were displaced.
In July and August, 27 structures were seized without warning in Area C, which prevented the ability of owners to object in advance.
Additionally, in six separate incidents in the Area C communities of al-Abaidiya, Umm Qussa and al-Jwaya, all in Hebron district, and in al-Sawiya and Huwwara, both in Nablus district, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of nine structures based on Military Order 1797, which provides only a 96-hour notice and very limited grounds for legally challenging a demolition. This resulted in the displacement of six households, comprising 26 people, including 10 children. A total of 210 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished based on this order since it came into effect in July 2019.
Serious concerns remain for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who endure fear and insecurity due to outstanding demolition orders that can be executed at any time, said OCHA. June 2022 marked a record month for the issuance of demolition orders against donor-funded structures, with a total of 55 such structures placed at risk of demolition. In addition to the increase in demolition and stop-work orders against Palestinian-owned structures, there have been a noted rise in the seizure of vehicles, tractors, water tanks and other essential items for communities living in Area C.
During the first eight months of 2022, a total of 590 structures were demolished or seized and 707 people were displaced.
During the reporting period, two schools were put at risk of demolition and the demolition of a third school was delayed through a court injunction.
In East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities demolished or forced people to demolish 24 structures, including 15 homes. August saw a 58 percent increase in the number of structures demolished in East Jerusalem, compared with the monthly average in the first seven months of 2022. More than half of the structures (13) were demolished by the owners following the issuance of a demolition order, and the rest (12) were demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality.
The communities most heavily affected were al Isawiyya, Jabal Mukabbir, and Silwan which, combined, accounted for 41 percent of demolition incidents in East Jerusalem this year. About 60 percent of the structures demolished in East Jerusalem were homes, while agricultural or livelihood-related structures accounted for some 38 percent of all demolitions in East Jerusalem.
During the first eight months of 2022, 49 percent of the structures demolished in East Jerusalem were destroyed by their owners following the issuance of demolition orders, compared with 27 percent in the previous five years. This is attributed to new Israeli legislation which limits the authority of Israeli courts to intervene and enables the Jerusalem Municipality to exert pressure on families to demolish their properties themselves. During two self-demolition incidents in Ras Al Amud area in East Jerusalem, Israeli forces stationed outside the properties and reportedly threatened to jail or fine family members if they did not complete the demolition quickly.
Four homes were demolished on punitive grounds in Area B of the West Bank for families of Palestinians allegedly involved in attacking and killing Israelis.
Since the beginning of 2022, 10 homes have been demolished on punitive grounds, compared with three in all of 2021 and seven in 2020.