UN urges halt to demolitions of Palestinian homes

United Nations humanitarian coordinator says Israel as "occupying Power" has responsibility to protect Palestinians.

Palestinian homes demolished 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian homes demolished 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
A senior United Nations official on Friday called upon Israel to immediately halt the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
“Israel, as the occupying power, has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and well-being,” said Maxwell Gaylard, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories and deputy special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
The UN official’s comments followed a visit to the Arab village of Anata, where he said he saw the ruins of seven Palestinian homes that were destroyed earlier in the week.
Gaylard’s visit fell on the same day the UN released a new report stating that 2011 saw a dramatic rise in the number of Palestinians displaced in the West Bank as a result of of house demolitions by Israel. According to a report from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, almost 1,100 Palestinians in the West Bank, over half of them children, were displaced last year – an 80 percent increase from the previous year.
The report echoes a statement released at the end of 2011 by a consortium of leftwing groups.
“Israeli authorities have stepped up unlawful demolitions in the West Bank including east Jerusalem over the past year, displacing a record number of Palestinian families from their homes,” read the statement released by over 20 groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International.
In the statement, Jeremy Hobbs, executive-director of Oxfam International, said “the increasing rate of settlement expansion and house demolitions is pushing Palestinians to the brink, destroying their livelihoods and prospects for a just and durable peace.”
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.