Twelve homes demolished by occupation forces in Qalandia, Palestine

Published July 26th, 2016 - 10:00 GMT
Palestinians stand at a house that was demolished by Israeli authorities in the Qalandia refugee camp. (AFP/File)
Palestinians stand at a house that was demolished by Israeli authorities in the Qalandia refugee camp. (AFP/File)

Under the escort of Israeli forces, bulldozers entered the village of Qalandiya on the outskirts of the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem late Monday evening, where they demolished 12 homes, according to locals.

Israeli authorities destroyed the homes, which had previously been issued demolition notices, claiming they were too close to Israel's separation wall and that they lacked the proper licenses.

Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and residents of the village who attempted to form a blockade around the 12 homes.
Israeli soldiers reportedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets, sponge bullets, tear-gas, and stun grenades at locals, and assaulted residents of the homes before the demolitions.

Among those assaulted during clashes was the head of the Qalandiya village council, Youssef Awadallah, who was taken to a hospital for treatment afterwards.

Israeli soldiers reportedly targeted journalists reporting on the demolitions, firing tear-gas and stun grenades at them, resulting in the injury of one journalist.

Palestinian medical sources told Ma'an that a total of seven Palestinians sustained injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas inhalation, and physical assault.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into reports.

When the Oslo II Interim Agreement was signed in 1995 between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, like many villages across the occupied West Bank, the Qalandiya village was divided into areas 'B' and 'C'.

Approximately 66 dunums, two percent of the total village area, were assigned as area 'B', where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has complete control over civil matters, but Israel continues to have overriding responsibility for security, according to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ).

Compared to the small section marked as area 'B', approximately 3,207 dunums, roughly 98 percent of the total village area, was classified as area 'C', where Israel retains full control over security and civil administration.

In area 'C' Palestinian building and land management is prohibited unless through a permit given by the Israeli Civil Administration.

Citing the separation wall plan published by the Israeli Defense Ministry in 2007, ARIJ highighted that with the completed construction of the wall, the urbanized areas of Qalandiya would be isolated from Jerusalem city and neighboring Palestinian communities, and would be surrounded by the wall from all four sides, making the village completely isolated.

According to the village profile published by ARIJ, Qalandiya has experienced a great deal of land confiscations and home demolitions for various Israeli purposes, primarily the construction of Israeli settlements -- which are illegal under international law -- the separation wall, settler-only bypass roads, and the establishment of Israeli military bases and checkpoints.

UN figures released in April revealed a four-fold increase from last year in the rate of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures, that left a record-high of 808 Palestinians displaced between the start of 2016 and April alone.

According to UN documentation, the Israeli authorities have destroyed some 588 Palestinian structures across the occupied Palestinian territory from January to April.

The over 800 Palestinians to be displaced this year far surpasses the number displaced during the entirety of 2015, while well over 1,000 Palestinians were also affected after losing structures related to their source of income.

Israel's home demolition policy has been widely condemned by the international community as collective punishment, executed in direct violation of international law.

The majority of demolitions have taken place in Area C of the West Bank --- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.

The Israeli authorities have regularly demolished Palestinian homes in Area C since occupying the West Bank in 1967, but rights groups and Palestinian officials have grown increasingly alarmed by Israel's renewed demolition campaign this year, accompanied by unprecedented land grabs.

UN Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine Riyad Mansour denounced earlier this year the "shocking" impassivity of the UN Security Council regarding Israeli violations of Palestinians' rights and international law, specifically referring to demolitions and settlement expansion.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his part said: "The creation of new facts on the ground through demolitions and settlement building raises questions about whether Israel's ultimate goal is in fact to drive Palestinians out of certain parts of the West Bank, thereby undermining any prospect of transition to a viable Palestinian state."

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