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08/12/2016

Israel bulldozes EU-funded Palestinian homes

Israel bulldozes EU-funded Palestinian homes

Settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. [Reuters]

Twenty-seven Palestinians were left homeless on Tuesday (9 August) after Israel razed five structures in the West Bank, three of had been funded by the European Union.

The US State Department said it was “troubled” by Israel’s “provocative” razing of three European Union-funded shelters in the West Bank earlier in the day, saying it “raises serious questions” about the Jewish state’s commitment to peace.

“We remain concerned about the increased demolition of Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which reportedly have left dozens of Palestinians homeless, including children,” said spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau during a press briefing.

The demolitions of the three shelters and two other structures took place in the Palestinian village of Umm el-Kheir, a small Bedouin village near the Israeli settlement of Carmel in the South Hebron Hills. It is in Area C of the West Bank, which is entirely under Israeli military control.

Last month the residents of Carmel reportedly complained about several new structures that were hastily put up right next to their town’s fence. The structures sported the EU flag. The Har Hevron Regional Council, together with the “Regavim” movement, appealed to the Civil Administration and sent out a demolition notice.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem said 27 people lived in the demolished structures, of whom 16 were minors. They all lost their homes in previous demolitions in the same village, its statement said.

“Israel is relentlessly destroying Palestinians’ homes and livelihoods in order to make way for more illegal settlements,” PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said. “Once again, I call on the international community to step in and stop Israel’s ongoing violations of international law.”

In July, B’Tselem said Israel has demolished more Palestinian homes in the first six months of 2016 than it did in the entirety of 2015, displacing some 740 Palestinians.

“I hope this signals the beginning of a new trend because until now the message sent by Israel’s reluctance to enforce the law was that this kind of construction was approved of. This brought about an increase in the scope of illegal construction by the Arabs,” said the Head of the Har Hevron Regional Council Yochai Damar speaking about yesterday’s demolition.

“We can’t have such blatantly selective enforcement. We in Har Hevron have been dealing with a construction freeze for over a year now. Every pipe and every caravan are put under the most exacting legal microscope while right next to us there are people who build whatever and whenever they want in open contempt for the law,” he added.