2016 has seen a record number of Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel in the West Bank compared to previous years over the last decade.
The Israel NGO, B’Tselem, has reported that the first half of 2016 has seen more Palestinian homes destroyed in the West Bank than the entire previous year. The Civil Administration demolished 168 homes in the West Bank. This has resulted in 740 homeless Palestinians, including 384 minors. This is a stark contrast to the previous year, where 496 Palestinians were made homeless, showing the increasing conflict within Palestine.
Israel had demolished at least 1,113 Palestinian homes in the West Bank over the last decade, leaving at least 5,199 homeless. The demolitions mostly took place in underprivileged communities such as in the Jordan Valley, South Hebron Hills and the east of Jerusalem. Israel has complete planning and building control in these areas, which is defined by Area C under the Oslo Accords. This means that these communities are unrecognised by Israel. Israel claims that the houses they destroy are “illegal construction”, however there is no real possibility of Palestinians building homes legally in these areas.
B’Tselem argue that continued demolition is an attempt to expel these communities from the land. This has been made evident by continued demolition the same families homes. At least 656 Palestinians in the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills have had their homes demolished more than once. The Civil Administration does not only demolish houses, but various structures which contribute to the communities and help sustain their livelihood, such as livestock pens and storage sheds. The Civil Administration also confiscates water tanks, and solar panels from communities, making their every day lives even more challenging. They not only destroy their homes, but render their ability to earn a living and access basic services.
These figures show the continued effort by the Israeli authorities to impose impossible conditions on Palestinians residing in Area C, who have to live under constant threat of having their homes destroyed, their livelihood stolen, and their basic needs unattended.
B’Tselem state that
“This policy… is intended to serve Israeli needs. Accordingly, Israel acts to establish facts on the ground and to create a reality that it will be difficult to change in any future agreement. These measures include exploiting natural resources, establishing settlements, and expanding existing ones.”