Israel forces Jerusalemite to demolish home on 6 January 2020 [Ma'an News Agency]
Israeli forces threatened this week to knock down a Palestinian house in the area of Um al-Rukba, in al-Khader town, located to the south of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Hasan Burejiya, an official in charge of monitoring Israeli violations in the area, was quoted by Wafa News Agency as stating that Israeli forces handed Palestinian citizen Saleh al-Mahsiri a military order to demolish his house under construction within 96 hours purportedly for being built without a license.
Bureijiya said that Um al-Rukba area, the sole area available for Palestinian construction expansion in the town, has become a frequent target for Israeli military raids and harassment, as several of its houses are threatened with demolition or halt-on-construction orders.
Located 4 kilometers to the west of Bethlehem city, al-Khader has a population of some 12,500 and occupies a total area of 8,280 dunams.
Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement made 25 years ago that was supposed to last just five years towards a self-governing country alongside Israel, the Palestinian Authority was given ed control over a small pocket of land occupying some 1,200 dunams, accounting for almost 14.5 percent of the village’s total area. In contrast, Israel maintains control over the remainder, classified as Area C.
Since the start of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, like so many other villages in Palestine, al-Khader has been subjected to almost continual land theft for Israeli settlements, bypass roads, and military installations.
Israel has constructed Efrat and Neve Daniyyel colonial settlements on an area of 6,329 dunums of Palestinian land, including a portion confiscated from al-Khader. It has also constructed a section of the apartheid wall, isolating some 5,620 dunums of the town’s land for colonial settlement activities and pushing the villagers into a crowded enclave, a ghetto, surrounded by walls, settlements and military installations.
It has confiscated more land for the construction of a tunnel and a crossing, controlling Palestinian movement from Bethlehem city and the western countryside villages.
Israel demolishes Palestinian houses and structures almost on a daily basis as a means to achieve “demographic control” of the occupied territories.
Israel denies planning permits for Palestinians to build on their own land or to extend existing houses to accommodate natural growth, particularly in Jerusalem and Area C, which constitutes 60 percent of the occupied West Bank and falls under full Israeli military rule, forcing residents to build without obtaining rarely-granted permits to provide shelters for their families.
In contrast, Israel argues that building within existing colonial settlements is necessary to accommodate the “natural growth” of settlers. Therefore, it much more easily gives the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers there building permits and provides them with roads, electricity, water and sewage systems that remain inaccessible to many neighboring Palestinians.