Wednesday, August 3, 2011

'Israel ups Palestinian home demolitions'

Palestinians react after their homes were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in the West Bank (file photo)

Source: Press TV

A UN relief agency says Israel has escalated demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank “alarmingly” in the first half of this year.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid for Palestinian refugees, said Tuesday Israeli forces have demolished 356 structures in the first six months of 2011, compared with 431 during the whole of 2010, AFP reported.

“Demolitions by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank have escalated alarmingly,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

Israeli demolitions have displaced 700 people in the first six months of this year, compared with 594 in the whole of last year, the agency stated.

“Most demolitions have targeted already vulnerable Bedouin and herding communities,” Gunness pointed out, adding, “In many cases, demolition orders have been issued to virtually the whole community, leaving these communities facing a real danger of complete destruction.”

The home demolitions are taking place in a large area, which constitutes 60 percent of the West Bank and is under full Israeli control, according to UNRWA.

“This means that it is virtually impossible for a Palestinian to obtain a permit for construction, while Israeli settlements receive preferential treatment in the allocation of water and land, and approval of development plans,” Gunness further explained.

The UN agency officials have noted that demolitions of Palestinian homes appear to be concentrated in areas considered for “settlement expansion.”

“Most disturbing of all is the clear link we now see between settlement expansion and demolitions and the forced displacements that result,” Gunness finally said.

In September 2010, the Israeli regime resumed the expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories after a 10-month partial freeze, prompting the Palestinian Authority leaders to break off the US-sponsored talks with Tel-Aviv that had resumed after a lengthy stalemate.

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