More than 50 Palestinians of the same extended family, including several children, were left homeless Tuesday morning after Israeli forces demolished eight homes in the outskirts of Sair village in the eastern Hebron district of the southern occupied West Bank, while another 20 lost their home in a house demolition near Bethlehem.
One of the homeowners, Ziad Shalalda, told Ma’an that Israeli troops stormed the area of Jurat al-Kheil just east of the town of Sair, and forcibly removed eight Palestinian families from the extended Shalalda family from their homes at gunpoint.
An excavator then demolished the buildings under heavy military protection.
Shalalda said that he and the other homeowners had been given “stop-work warrants” two years ago on the grounds that they did not have the necessary construction licenses from Israeli authorities.
Under the jurisdiction of Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains full military control over security and civil administration, residents suffer under arbitrary policies of land classification, where they may not utilize any of their lands for building or farming in the areas without having proper authorization from the Israeli Civil Administration, which are nearly impossible to obtain.
According to Shalalda, ever since he and his fellow homeowners were issued the warrants to stop construction, they have been consistently trying to obtain licenses, but Israeli authorities have rejected every applications.
Shalalda added that Tuesday’s demolitions came without any previous warnings, other than the stop-work warrants the owners received two years ago.
The refusal to grant permits, like in the case of the Shalaldas, by Israeli authorities has forced many Palestinians to build without permission, at the risk of seeing their homes or structures demolished.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel only granted 33 building permits out of 2,020 applications submitted by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Tuesday left another estimated 20 Palestinians homeless in Beit Jala’s Beir Ouna neighborhood in the Bethlehem district of the southern occupied West Bank.
Israeli authorities demolished two homes and a room that were part of a family complex.
Moussa Zreina, one of the residents of the homes, told Ma’an that he, along with his five brothers and a total of 20 family members, were left homeless after their houses were destroyed with no prior notice.
A spokesperson for Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government's policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not respond to a request for comment on the demolitions in Sair or Beit Jala.
Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes
in the West Bank in the first six months of 2016 as they did in all of 2015, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed in a report released recently, in a worrying confirmation of Israel’s ongoing crackdown on Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank.
A total of 168 homes were destroyed during the first half of 2016 for lacking hard to obtain Israeli-issued building permits, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless, compared to all of 2015, when 125 homes were demolished, leaving 496 Palestinians without a home.