Israel has agreed to suspend the demolition of inhabited illegal homes in Area C of the West Bank due to the coronavirus outbreak, Israeli officials told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Civil Administration has continued to remove illegal construction in Area C that belongs to settlers or Palestinians. More Palestinian structures have been taken down than Jewish ones.
Israel has been under pressure to halt such demolitions, especially when the best way to contain the spread of the coronavirus is for people to remain in home isolation.
Left-wing Israeli NGO B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories has appealed to the Civil Administration to halt such demolitions
“I was informed by top UN officials that the Israeli occupation authorities informed them that they will stop demolitions of Palestinian homes,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat tweeted on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Civil Administration demolished three illegal Palestinian structures in the village of Rumana. It also confiscated a modular structure in the Jordan Valley village of Jiftlik.
Those structures lacked the necessary permits, and “enforcement steps” were “carried out in accordance with the Civil Administration’s authorities and procedures,” the Civil Administration said.
According to B’Tselem, the Civil Administration in March demolished two Palestinian residential structures that were home to 13 people, including eight minors. It demolished two uninhabited homes.
The Civil Administration destroyed four modular residential structures under construction and eight tents in the Jordan Valley that were designated to shelter people evicted from their homes, B’Tselem said.
The Civil Administration confiscated construction material for two medical clinics and two mosques. All the structures were illegal, it said.
B’Tselem has argued that Palestinians are not granted enough permits and have no option but to build illegally.
“It is horrifying that during a global pandemic, Israel, which has the responsibility for the people living under its military control, including providing them with shelter, water, electricity and medical care, does not halt demolitions altogether,” it said.
“A pause in demolitions of residential structures does not come near meeting these obligations, and the continued destruction of humanitarian infrastructure during a humanitarian crisis is despicable,” B’Tselem said.