Since 2014, Israel has demolished 18 times as many structures as it permitted the Palestinians to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel has both civilian and military control, Civil Administration data show.
The data also show a partial enforcement of demolition orders in the West Bank, against both Palestinians or Israelis building illegally.
According to the data released at the request of the NGO Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, a group identified with the left, between 2014 and 2016 Palestinians requested 1,253 building permits in Area C – 440 in 2014, 385 in 2015 and 428 in 2016.
Only 53 of these requests were approved. In 2014 only nine building permits were issued, in 2015, seven, while in 2016 there was a steep increase, an a total of 37 permits were issued through June.
During that same period, 2,141 demolition orders were given for Palestinian structures in Area C – 832 in 2014, 875 in 2015, and through June of this year, 434.
Less than half of these orders, 983, have been carried out so far. Nevertheless, far more structures have been demolished than new structures were approved.
In 2014 there were 408 demolitions; in 2015, 335, and through June of this year, 240.
“These demolitions can affect tens of thousands of people,” said Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, Bimkom’s Area C coordinator. “Two thousand orders can be relevant to 3,000 structures, and each structure can house between four and 15 people.”
The Civil Administration does not have data on the number of building permits issued in the settlements, since these are not processed through the Civil Administration, but it does have the number of demolition orders issued and carried out against illegal Jewish construction.
Those figures show that since 2014, 865 demolition orders have been issued against structures in the settlements – 349 in 2014, 378 in 2015, and 138 in 2016. Here, too, enforcement has only been partial, with only 438 demolitions carried out – 181 in 2014, 188 in 2015, and 69 to mid-2016.
Yaniv Aharoni, the land coordinator of the right-wing Otef Yerushalayim Forum, who monitors illegal Palestinian construction in the Mishor Adumim area, claims the data for Palestinian demolitions are inflated.
“Every stake is defined by the Civil Administration as illegal construction,” Aharoni said. “In our district, when an inspector comes to me and says he took down 11 illegal structures, I go to the site and find that of those illegal structures, there are three pens and stakes, and even the things that kids used to mark off a soccer field.”