Palestinians alarmed as Israel steps up razing of homes
Palestinians have expressed alarm at a sharp rise in Israeli demolition of their homes in the occupied territories, urging international action to stop Tel Aviv from driving more families from their homes.
Secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat said Wednesday Israel had displaced more than 30 families after demolishing their homes in East Jerusalem al-Quds and the West Bank over the past 24 hours.
“This crude attack conducted by heavily armed forces against a defenseless people under occupation is a clear demonstration of Israel’s intention to forcibly displace Palestinians while intensifying the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine,” he said.
On Wednesday, Israel sent a heavy contingent of troops and armored vehicles to Surif northeast of al-Khalil (Hebron) where they killed 29-year-old Mohammad Faqih after rocketing and demolishing his home.
Erekat denounced the international community’s inaction, saying this “idleness and silence is encouraging Israel to continue and escalate its violations against the Palestinians and their property.”
“The International community must act instantly, provide our people with the needed protection, and hold Israel accountable for its crimes,” he said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the demolitions are “against international law and against every standard of human decency.”
UN special coordinator for the so-called peace process Nickolay Mladenov also said the demolitions reflect “Israel’s systematic policy of denying Palestinian development in the occupied West Bank.”
After killing Faqih, Israeli troops took away with them four Palestinians, including a woman, in Surif and one in al-Khalil.
Several Palestinians were injured after Israeli soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs at residents who hurled stones and empty bottles at them.
An Israeli non-profit organization says Israeli officials have demolished 168 Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank between January and the end of June this year, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless.
B’Tselem said on Monday that the figure is unusually high, and exceeds the number of homes demolished during the corresponding period last year. It is also higher than the annual rate of demolitions since 2006, excluding the 175 Palestinian homes that were razed in 2013.
The Israeli demolitions and its sustained violation of international law have raised alarm among diplomats and human rights groups.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds. The settlements are considered by the international community as illegal.