Israeli authorities demolish ten Palestinian homes in Area C in January, leaving 59 homeless

On 21 January 2016, at about 4:00 a.m., Civil Administration and military forces came to the Palestinian community of Badu al-Baba, which lies close to al-‘Eizariyah to the northeast of Jerusalem. The forces demolished three residential structures that were home to three families totaling 14 people, including six minors. Two of the demolished structures were trailers donated by a humanitarian aid organization to replace old tents that could not provide proper shelter from the harsh weather in the area.

The community of Badu al-Baba numbers about 350 people, some half of them minors. They live in what Israeli authorities have defined as area E1, where Israel plans to establish the settlement of Mevasseret Adumim, thereby forming a contiguous urban bloc between the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem. The Civil Administration has included this area within the municipal boundaries of Ma’ale Adumim.

In early January 2016, the authorities also demolished residential structures in the Abu a-Nuwar community, which also lies in E1. On 6 January, Civil Administration and military representatives came to the community, which lies between the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Kedar, and demolished the residential tents of five families totaling 28 people, including 18 minors. On 10 January, the Civil Administration and military dismantled and confiscated tents donated to the families by humanitarian organizations following the previous demolition.

The authorities also carried out demolitions this month in two communities in the South Hebron Hills. On 13 January, Civil Administration and military representatives came to Khirbet a-Rahwah. The settlement of Tene was established close to the community, which lies south of a-Dahariyah. The force demolished the residential tent of a family of nine, including seven minors, as well as a livestock pen belonging to the family. This tent was already destroyed by the Civil Administration about a year ago and rebuilt since. The force also confiscated a solar panel donated to the family by humanitarian aid organizations.

On 20 January 2016, at around midday, Civil Administration and military representatives came to Khirbet Susiya and demolished two residential tents that were home to a family of eight, including six minors. These tents were established in 2015, and therefore were not included in the petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice against the authorities’ intention to demolish structures in the community.

The extensive demolitions are part of a broader Israeli policy in Area C. This policy is based on the approach that this area, which spans some 60 percent of the West Bank, is intended primarily to serve Israeli needs. Accordingly, Israel acts to establish facts on the ground and to create a reality that it will be difficult to change in any future agreement. These measures include exploiting natural resources, establishing settlements, and expanding existing ones. At the same time, it has been the longstanding policy of various Israeli governments to displace and expel Palestinian residents from Area C, under flimsy pretexts such as “illegal construction” – a spurious claim given the absence of any real possibility for Palestinians to build legally in the area.

In Khirbet Susiya, the authorities are planning to expel all residents in order to allow settlers to seize control of their land. Demolition orders have been issued for all structures in the community. The residents are waging a legal and public battle against the demolition orders and in favor of their right to continue to live on their land. The claims of illegal construction are intended to mask Israel’s derogation of its obligations: to permit the residents of the West Bank to live their lives without disruption, and – as the occupying power – to ensure the development of their communities to a degree permitting a dignified life that meets their needs.

The Israeli authorities impose an impossible daily reality on Palestinian communities in Area C by repeatedly demolishing their homes, constantly threatening further demolition, and other violations of their rights. This governmental policy, implemented systematically for years, constitutes the forced transfer of protected Palestinian residents within the occupied territory.

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