Palestinians from Um Fagarah village, together with internationals and other Palestinian activists, protest house demolitions. (File photo via Activestills.org)
The Israeli occupation authorities demolished or seized some 90 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied territories, displacing over 140 people, many of them children, and affecting hundreds others, according to the latest Protection of Civilians report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) occupied Palestinian territory.
OCHA said that on 3 February, the Israeli occupation authorities demolished or confiscated 21 Palestinian-owned structures in Humsa al-Fouqa al- Bqai’a community in the northern occupied Jordan Valley, displacing 60 people, including 35 children.
Two days before this operation, and also in Humsa al Bqai’a, 25 residential and animal shelters were confiscated on 1 February, displacing 55 people, including 32 children. Most of the structures had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to a mass demolition in the same community on 3 November 2020, said OCHA.
Residents were reportedly told that their confiscated structures would be returned if they relocate to Ein Shebli, within 24 hours.
Most of the affected community resides in an area designated by the Israeli occupation military as a "firing zone", hence closed for military training, a pretext Palestinians and Israeli human rights organizations say aims at uprooting the Palestinians from their lands and homes as part of Israel’s plan to seize and annex all the occupied land but without the people and develop it for its illegal settlement projects.
OCHA said that citing the lack of building permits or located in a military zone, the Israeli military authorities demolished or seized in the period between 19 January and 1 February 69 Palestinian-owned structures, displacing 80 people, and otherwise affecting nearly 600 others. All but one of the demolished structures, and all people displaced, were recorded in Area C of the occupied West Bank. About 70 percent, 45 structures, were in four Jordan Valley communities.
One structure was demolished in al Walaja village near Bethlehem, but located within the Israeli-defined municipal boundary of Jerusalem.
Other demolitions and confiscations were carried out in the southern West Bank. In the community of Umm Qussa, located in a declared military zone in Hebron, a mosque and a water cistern were demolished, and a water network was damaged under Military Order 1797, which allows for demolitions after 96 hours of the issuance of a ‘removal order.’ The network damage has affected 450 residents’ access to water.
Also in Hebron, in Khashem al-Daraj, five families received temporary eviction orders on 31 January, instructing them to leave their residences for four days, to make way for military training.
OCHA said in the period between 19 January and 1 February the Israeli authorities uprooted and destroyed thousands of trees near the city of Tubas in the Jordan Valley. The trees had been planted eight years ago as part of a project supervised by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.
The Israeli authorities also bulldozed nearly 1,000 privately-owned trees in the Khallet al-Nahla area in Bethlehem. Both incidents took place on the grounds that the land had been declared ‘state land.’
At the same time, seven Palestinians were injured and hundreds of Palestinian-owned trees, and an unknown number of vehicles, were vandalized by Israeli settlers. Four of the injured, including a child, were stoned, or physically assaulted, while they were travelling on Road 60 in the Ramallah governorate.
Also in the last three weeks, three Palestinians were shot dead by either Israeli occupation forces or settlers in the occupied territories.
According to OCHA’s Protection of Civilians report, Israeli occupation forces carried out 159 search-and-arrest operations and detained 177 Palestinians across the West Bank in the period between 19 January and 1 February. The Jerusalem governorate recorded the highest number of operations (35), mostly in East Jerusalem, followed by the Hebron governorate (26).