UN: A 250% increase in Israeli demolition, and collective punishment of Palestinians

JERUSALEM, June 20, 2020 (WAFA) — Seventy Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized in the occupied West Bank under the pretext of lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 90 people and affecting over 280, which represents a 250 percent increase compared with the weekly average of structures targeted since the beginning of the year, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory.

It said in its biweekly report, covering the period between 2 and 15 June, that 61 of the affected structures were located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military rule, including nine previously provided as humanitarian assistance. Among the hardest hit areas was Massafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where the Israeli authorities demolished 17 homes, cisterns and livelihood-related structures.

This area, said OCHA, is designated as a “firing zone” for military training and its 1,300 Palestinian residents face a coercive environment putting them at risk of forcible transfer.

Nine of the affected structures were in East Jerusalem, of which four were demolished by their Palestinian owners to avoid municipal fees and possible damage to other structures and personal belongings. The increase in demolitions and displacement amidst the ongoing pandemic raises serious concern, said the UN organization.

As for Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories, OCHA said 10 Palestinians were injured, including a 10-year old girl who was pushed by a settler in the Old City of Jerusalem sustaining an eye injury, while the remaining nine Palestinians injured were stoned or beaten next to the illegal settlements.

In addition, at least 90 olive trees in Burin village in the Nablus district and in Kafr al-Dik in the Salfit district in the northern West Bank were set on fire or cut down by settlers during the reporting period, said OCHA.

Israeli settlers also vandalized 10 Palestinian-owned vehicles, tents and water-related structures in the villages of Jamma’in, al-Sawiya and Lifjim, all in the Nablus area, al-Mughayyir near Ramallah and Kifl Hares in the Salfit district, as well as in the Israeli-occupied H2 area of Hebron. In another six incidents, settlers grazed their sheep on land belonging to farmers from Qawawis community in Hebron district, damaging at least 20 dunums of seasonal crops.

OCHA said a total of 25 Palestinians, including nine children, were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank during the reporting period and Israeli forces carried out 120 search-and-arrest operations and detrained around 190 Palestinians. Of these operations, 28 were recorded in East Jerusalem, 26 in the Hebron governorate, 15 in the Ramallah governorate and the rest elsewhere across the West Bank.

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