'Demolition of illegal Palestinian homes in W. Bank rising'

B’Tselem data shows that demolitions by civil administration in Area C has already exceeded the number demolished in 2010.

House demoltion in east Jerusalem (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
House demoltion in east Jerusalem (R) 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The demolition of illegally built Palestinian homes by the civil administration in Area C of the West Bank has already exceeded the number demolished in 2010, according to data released Wednesday by B’Tselem.
“In the past week, civil administration inspectors, accompanied by soldiers and Border Police officers, demolished 33 residential structures in the Palestinian communities of Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh and Yarza, all in the Jordan Valley, and in Khirbet Bir al-‘Id, in the South Hebron Hills,” B’Tselem said.
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According to the report, 2011 could have the highest number in the last five years of demolished unauthorized Palestinian homes in Area C.
As of June 2011, 103 homes had been torn down in Area C, compared with 86 last year, according to B’Tselem, which monitors human rights activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
In 2009, however, only 28 homes were taken down. In 2008 and 2007, respectively, 44 residences were demolished, and in 2006, 51 homes were destroyed.
This year’s demolitions have left 521 people homeless; of these, 180 were minors, according to B’Tselem.
All the data in the report was collected by B’Tselem, which noted that it was almost impossible for Palestinians to build legally in Area C.
“Few civil administration outline plans have been made for Palestinian communities, and they do not enable any construction or development beyond what already exists,” B’Tselem said.
“Some of the demolished structures were in places the army had declared ‘firing zones,’” B’Tselem said.
In response, the civil administration said the report was misleading and incorrect.
The administration said it enforces construction laws in both Jewish and Palestinian communities of Area C. Its priorities are based on a list which has been presented numerous times to the High Court of Justice.
Demolition of illegal structures in a firing zone is of a very high priority because it is dangerous for civilians to be in those areas, the administration said.
It added that it had recently formulated a new criterion to facilitate the approval of Palestinian construction in Area C.
A military source added that in the last few years, there has been a phenomenon of Palestinians settling in IDF firing zones in Area C. Many of them have regular homes and do not live in the firing zone on a permanent basis, the source said.
Separately, according to B’Tselem, there has been a decrease in the number of unauthorized Palestinian homes which were demolished in east Jerusalem in 2011.
To date, the agency reported, eight Palestinian homes have been taken down compared with 22 last year.
In some cases, the Jerusalem Municipality destroys the homes, and in other cases the Palestinian owners agree to take them down themselves.