UN claims Palestinians and Beduin at risk of forced transfer in West Bank

Warning comes after IDF demolishes two illegally built classrooms.

The United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
The United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East
The United Nations warned that Palestinians and Beduin in Area C were at risk of forced transfer by Israel after the IDF demolished two illegally built elementary school classrooms in the West Bank Beduin community of Abu Nuwar just outside of Jerusalem.
Israel must “immediately cease all practices that are directly or indirectly generating a risk of forcible transfer for Palestinians in various parts of the West Bank, including the destruction of schools and related property,” Roberto Valent, the UN’s acting humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said.
“Abu Nuwar is one of the most vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian assistance in the occupied West Bank,” he said.
Sunday’s demolition marked the sixth IDF demolition or confiscation in Abu Nuwar in the last two years, Valent said.
“A combination of Israeli policies and practices – including demolitions and restricted access to basic services, such as education – have created a coercive environment that violates the human rights of residents,” Valent added.
The two modular classrooms that housed 25 third and fourth grade pupils were built in September with funds from the European Union.
Another building at the school services 72 pupils in kindergarten, first and second grades.
Tensions run high between Israel and the EU over its funding of illegal Palestinian and Beduin modular structures in Area C of the West Bank.
The Civil Administration, which carried out the demolition, said its inspection unit “conducted an enforcement against an illegal structure in Abu Nawar, following an order against a structure dangerous for use.”
The building was built illegally and without the necessary permits,” it said, adding that “enforcement was approved by the Supreme Court” in “accordance with the proper proceedings and permits.”
The left-wing organization B’Tselem, which is working to halt such demolitions, said the legal proceedings were still ongoing.
According to B’Tselem, some 650 people live in Abu Nawar on the edge of the E1 area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
The UN said that there are 37 schools in Area C of the West Bank with pending demolition orders.
In the past, both the UN and the EU have explained that the Civil Administration issues very few permits for Palestinian and Beduin construction in Area C.
Right-wing politicians have waged a campaign in the last few years to pressure the Civil Administration to increase its enforcement of illegal Palestinian and Beduin construction in Area C, arguing that such building is part of a Palestinian Authority campaign to gain control of the territory, particularly in the area outside of Jerusalem.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said “Israel’s demolition of EU funded Palestinian classrooms this morning is the continuation of Israel’s humiliation of international law and only aims to break the Palestinian will for freedom and life.”
“It’s time for the international community to hold Israel accountable. Actions speak louder than words,” he said.