Sharp increase in house demolitions in the West Bank

Demolitions trigger fears for the future of Palestinian rural communities

Tuesday, 27 July, 2010 - 19:49
London, UK
Amnesty, UN OCHA

A sharp increase in house demolitions in Area C of the West Bank occurred in July.

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), almost 100 structures were demolished over a period of two weeks, mainly in the Jordan Valley and the southern West Bank, including the Bethlehem and Hebron districts. Over 300 people were affected or displaced, including more than 100 children.

According to Amnesty International, since the beginning of 2010, almost 200 structures have been demolished in the West Bank.

According to the Israeli military authorities, quoted by the Israeli press, the evictions and demolitions were ordered because the homes were in a “closed military zone”, or because they had been built without building permits from the Israeli Civil Administration.

Area C is a definition coined in the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation in the mid-1990s.

It makes up more than 62% of the occupied West Bank and is home to the majority of Palestinian rural communities and agricultural lands, which are subject to Israeli military and civil control under the Oslo Accords. It is also home to the illegal Israeli settlements.

The much smaller Area A comprises Palestinian urban centres which are subject to full Palestinian control, while Area B includes tracts of land and communities which are under Israeli military control and Palestinian administration.

Area C is the arena of the fast-expanding illegal settlement project, spearheaded by hardline settlers and supported materially by the Israeli authorities.

Rights groups have researched and drawn maps of planned and actual settlement expansion, showing that most Palestinian lands in Area C are scheduled for annexation to settlements.

Settlers and Israeli authorities constantly restrict the movement and livelihoods of local Palestinian farmers in these areas, and the recent rise in demolitions has sharpened fears that alongside annexation and settlement construction, the Israeli government seeks to displace the local Palestinian population from these areas.

Amnesty International has for the first time voiced these fears publicly: “These recent demolitions intensify concerns that this is part of a government strategy to remove the Palestinian population from the parts of the West Bank known as Area C, over which Israel has complete control in terms of planning and construction,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

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Related item by UN OCHA (December 2009):…

Map by Peace Now

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