Palestinians have long complained that they face discriminatory housing policies that favour Jews. (File photo: REUTERS)
In the two weeks between 8 and 21 August, the Israeli occupation authorities demolished a donor-funded school in the Ramallah governorate and 33 other Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In its bi-weekly Protection of Civilians Report, OCHA said that on 17 August, Israeli authorities demolished a donor-funded school serving students from the displaced herding community of Ein Samiya, near Ramallah. The school served 17 children, aged between six and 12, from the Ein Samiya community. In early May, members of the community, comprising 132 people, including 68 children, moved to areas where they reportedly felt safer, citing settler violence as the primary reason for leaving.
According to the report, since 2010, the Israeli authorities have carried out 41 demolition/confiscations against 22 schools in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, citing the lack of building permits.
In addition to the above school, the Israeli authorities demolished, confiscated, or forced people to demolish an additional 33 structures in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, including 10 homes, citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain. As a result, 22 Palestinians, including 10 children, were displaced, and the livelihoods of more than 100 others were affected.
Three of the affected structures were provided by donors in response to a previous demolition in Isteih community in Jericho and Humsa al Farsheh community in the Nablus district. Twenty-nine of the affected structures were demolished in Area C, including four structures demolished in Ein Shibli, near Nablus, located in an Israeli-declared nature reserve, where Palestinian construction is prohibited.
Another two structures were demolished in Humsa al Farsheh community located in an area closed for military training purposes, a firing zone, where Palestinian construction in prohibited. This designation applies to some 18 percent of West Bank territory, primarily in the Jordan Valley.
Four other structures were demolished in East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of two households, comprising nine people, including three children. Two of the demolished structures in East Jerusalem were destroyed by their owners to avoid the payment of fines to the Israeli authorities.
On 8 August, Israeli forces raided Askar Refugee camp in Nablus, in Area B, and demolished on punitive grounds the home of a family member accused of killing two Israeli settlers in February. A female-headed household comprising four people, including a child, was displaced. During the demolition that lasted for more than six hours, a total of 197 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces, including 75 children.
Since the beginning of 2023, 16 homes and one agricultural structure have been demolished on punitive grounds, compared with 14 structures in all of 2022 and three in 2021. Punitive demolitions are a form of collective punishment and as such are illegal under international law.
In addition to the demolitions, on 22 August, Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian child during a search-and-arrest operation in al Zababida town in the Jenin district,
The Israeli occupation forces killed six Palestinians, including one child, during Israeli army incursions across the West Bank, some of which involved exchanges of fire with Palestinians.
The number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Israel by Israeli forces so far in 2023 reached 172 and has surpassed the total number killed in all of 2022, amounting to 155, which already saw the highest fatalities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 2005.
During the reporting period, 559 Palestinians, including at least 148 children, were injured by Israeli forces across the West Bank, including 21 people by live ammunition. Most injuries (192) were reported during a punitive demolition that lasted for more than six hours in Askar Refugee Camp during which Israeli forces used live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, and tear gas canisters, and Palestinians threw stones.
Since the beginning of the year, a total of 705 Palestinians have been injured with live ammunition by Israeli forces in the West Bank, almost double the number in the equivalent period in 2022 (411).
Four Palestinians were also injured by Israeli settlers who also damaged Palestinian property in another 19 instances across the West Bank.
According to the OCHA report, Israeli forces restricted the movement of Palestinians in various locations across the West Bank, disrupting the access of thousands of Palestinians to livelihoods and services.