The IDF demolished two illegal Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank that were funded by the European Union on the same day that in Davos Switzerland Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“Enforcement steps were taken against two illegal constructions which were built without a permit in Rass Azria,” the Civil Administration said.
The modular gray structures which were clearly marked with an EU logo housed area Beduins, that live near an unbuilt area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, known as E1.
Just last week, right wing Israeli politicians had accused the IDF of failing to enforce building laws in that area.
Atallah Mazar'a, a representative of the Jabal Al-Baba Beduin community said that four structures were destroyed.
”They (the Israeli forces) began raiding the houses without prior warning, even the owner of the house was allowed to take little things from his house, and this thing (the house demolition) scared the children, they were affected, they were shouting, and they (the Israeli forces) didn't care for anything. They (the Israeli forces) were treating us violently, and they demolished four houses and left," Mazar’a said.
“The houses were funded by the European Union, and they put the European flag in order to be a deterrent to the occupation,” Mazar’a said. Netanyahu has charged that the EU is attempting to create new facts on the ground by supporting illegal Palestinian building in Area C of the West Bank.
EU funding of such construction as well as steps it has taken place consumer labels that say “not made in Israel” on products produced over the Green Line have created tension between Brussels and Jerusalem.
On Monday, the foreign ministers of the EU’s 28 member states called on Israel to allow the Palestinians to develop Area C of the West Bank in a statement it issued after its Foreign Affairs Council meeting. It also warned that actions against the Palestinians, such as “demolitions and confiscation — including of EU funded projects” were an obstacle to peace.
The IDF has full military and civilian control of Area C of the West Bank, where all the Israeli settlements are located. The Palestinian Authority has full civilian control of Areas A and B, where the bulk of the Palestinian population in the West Bank lives.
On Wednesday the Palestinian Minister of Local Government Hussain Al A’raj and EU Representative Ralph Tarraf signed a grant agreement that provided 2 million Euros for the development of Area C. It’s part of a 9.5 million grant program funded by the EU, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom. The money will fund the building of classrooms, water networks, roads and playgrounds.
The EU said that together with the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government it has been active in the development and planning of Area C.
“More than hundred Master Plans have been developed. To-date, only three have received an approval from the Israeli authorities,” it said.
Reuters contributed to this report.