650 Children among 1,205 Palestinians Displaced as Israel Demolishes Hundreds of Palestinian Houses in 2021

650 Children among 1,205 Palestinians Displaced as Israel Demolishes Hundreds of Palestinian Houses in 2021

Bedouin boys living in Jabal al-Baba in the remains of their family’s home which was demolished by Israel in 2017. (UN photo)

A total of 904 Palestinian structures were demolished by Israeli forces and 1,205 people were displaced in 2021, including 650 children, according to the Office of the European Union Representative in Jerusalem.

In its “One Year Report on Demolitions and Seizures in the West Bank including East Jerusalem”, covering the period from 1 January until 31 December 2021, the EU Office said demolitions carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities in the West Bank in 2021 reached a 5-year high.

According to the report, demolitions represent a 6% increase in the number of structures demolished and a 20% increase in the people displaced respectively, compared with 2020.

Of the structures targeted in the twelve-month reporting period, 140 structures were funded by the EU or EU Member States (valued at EUR 331,031), representing a 15 and 43 percent increase compared with 2020 and 2019, respectively.

It said the Israeli authorities repeatedly targeted the Bedouin and herding communities in Area C of the occupied West Bank, such as Humsa al Bqai’a, and also increasingly used military orders in Area C to execute demolitions/seizures without, or with very little, prior notice, further limiting opportunities to legal recourse.

The EU report said a particular focus in 2021 was the risk of forced eviction cases of Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan due to cases brought before Israeli courts, primarily by settler groups and associates.

The year 2021 also saw a significant spike in the number of so-called ‘self-demolitions’ in East Jerusalem carried out by the owners themselves to avoid financial penalties or imprisonment in light of increasing pressure by the West Jerusalem Israeli municipality.

The report warned that the impact of Israel’s demolition orders on Palestinian families and their children is tremendous. Apart from the material damage that demolitions leave behind, the displaced are left with long-lasting mental scars.

It referred to a report published by Save the Children in 2021, which confirmed that more than 3/4 of parents and caregivers affected by demolitions feel powerless, not able to protect their children anymore, while four out of five children feel abandoned by the world.

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