Israel Razing Palestinian Homes at Alarming Rate: UN

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A general view shows buildings under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in annexed east Jerusalem, on Monday. (AFP)
A general view shows buildings under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in annexed east Jerusalem, on Monday. (AFP)

AFP creditJERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel is razing Palestinian homes and other buildings constructed with international aid at an “alarming” rate, the UN says, with more demolitions so far this year than in all of 2015.

In total 121 structures funded partly or fully by international donors were demolished in the occupied West Bank between Jan. 1 and March 2, overtaking the 108 from all of 2015, according to UN figures seen by AFP.

The projects include homes for Palestinians and at least one school, as well as temporary structures such as pens for animals and sheds.

Robert Piper, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, wrote in response to an AFP query that the demolitions were “alarming.”

“We have already surpassed the total number of humanitarian aid items destroyed or confiscated in all of 2015, in just the first 10 weeks of 2016,” Piper said.

“We will be protesting to the Israeli authorities of course, as are many in the diplomatic community.”

Vance Culbert, country director at the Norwegian Refugee Council NGO, recently said there were “tens of millions of dollars of donor assistance which are at risk of demolition.”

COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the Palestinian territories, declined to comment on the number of demolitions, saying only that it takes “enforcement steps against any illegal construction” after issuing demolition orders.
The spike comes as US Vice President Joe Biden is due to arrive in Israel for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby last week warned of a “damaging trend of demolition, displacement, and land confiscation” that calls “into question the Israeli government’s commitment to (the) two-state solution.”

Moti Yogev, an MP from the far-right Jewish Home party who heads an Israeli Parliament sub-committee on the West Bank, said the rise in demolitions was likely in response to European Union measures on imports of goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
“I have no doubt that the government’s firm stance is in part a result of the unilateral measures taken by Europe,” Yogev, whose party has ministers in the government, told AFP.

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