Israel has demolished more Palestinian homes in first half of 2016 than all of 2015

Israel/Palestine
on 7 Comments

More Palestinian homes were demolished in the occupied territories in the first half of 2016 than in all of 2015, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

According to B’Tselem, the group presented a report to lawmakers in July during a parliamentary conference on Israeli “efforts to expel” Palestinian villagers, including the use of “repeated demolition of the homes of the same families.” The increased demolitions and displacement have also been accompanied by a rising number of new settler homes under construction. This past week Israel announced hundreds more settlements planned for East Jerusalem, prompting the U.S. State Department to issue an atypical condemnation of the Jewish state.

Record year of home demolitions

The B’Tselem report found from January to the end of June of 2016, Israeli forces razed 168 Palestinian units in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which left 740 homeless, nearly 250 more than the previous year when 125 houses were bulldozed.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said in February, demolitions this year are “three times the weekly average for 2015. These actions run directly counter to the idea of peace.”

Most of the homes razed were located in Area C of the West Bank, rural regions under full Israeli civil and security control where Palestinians are required to apply for construction permits.

“Israel has full control of planning and building matters in these locations,” B’Tselem said in the report, “and refuses to recognize these communities,”

In addition to demolitions, B’Tselem says Israel forces confiscated “water tanks and solar panels from communities that are not hooked up to the water or power grids, as well as vehicles used for farming and other equipment. In doing so, the Civil Administration not only leaves these residents homeless but also severely lacking basic services and the ability to earn a living.”

A high concentration of bulldozing took place in the Jerusalem area. In the last week of July the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded 20 demolitions in Qalandia village in East Jerusalem, 15 of which were carried out on July 26th.

“This brings the number of Palestinian-owned structures demolished in East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2016 to 114, an over 40 per cent increase compared to the entire 2015 (80),” said OCHA.

B’Tselem’s figures do not include homes demolished for punitive reasons, the practice where Israeli forces knock down the living quarters, or entire buildings of Palestinians who killed Israelis in attacks. Rather, their statistics refers only to homes that are demolished because they were constructed in areas that require permits from Israel, and no permits were issued.

B’Tselem noted an “absence of any real possibility for Palestinians to build legally in the area. Furthermore, this separation of Area C from the areas transferred to the Palestinian Authority is artificial and ignores the geo-economic reality of life in the West Bank.”

Last year Haaretz reported Palestinians make up 40 percent of Jerusalem’s population but only received seven percent of the licenses to build.

A decade of increased demolitions

From 2006 to June 30th of this year B’Tselem found Israel demolished more than 1,113 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, making homeless 5,199, of whom 2,602 are children.

Within that period, the number of demolitions carried out so far this year is the second highest annual rate with the exception of 2013.

Throughout the decade the highest number of demolitions were found to have taken place in the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem and the outlying areas within the West Bank.

(Image: Carlos Latuff)

(Image: Carlos Latuff)

Settlement construction on the rise in demolition zones

These regions of increased demolitions and displacement are also locations experiencing a rising number of new settler homes under construction.

In the spring the Israeli settler watchdog Peace Now reported a 250 percent increase in approval for settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.  In hard numbers, this means Israel sanctioned 674 settlement houses this year, compared to 194 units in the first quarter of 2015.

Of the buildings approved this year, 180 were retroactively legalized outposts where Israel gave permits to structures that violated Israeli construction laws.

The U.S. government is on the record as saying Israeli settlements in the occupied territory hinder the possibility of an independent Palestinian state, and the U.S. State Department recently issued a special statement addressing concern over Israeli settlement building and the “risk [of] entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the latest announcement of 770 settlement units in Gilo, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem, is “part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalizations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

“We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” Kirby added.

Yet Kirby’s stark announcement came the same week as the Democratic National Convention where the issue of settlements was removed from the party’s platform.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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7 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    August 5, 2016, 9:11 pm

    As is always the case..Allison thank you for your depressing reports that we need to read and take in. As is always the case Israel year after year, decade after decade destroys Palestinians homes and lives. No need to wonder why Palestinians etc are so angry and pushed to use violence to bring attention to their plight

    If only Israel were held to international standards and agreements. Not going to get any better with a Clinton administration. More than likely worse for the Palestinians.

    All of this hullabaloo about Trump allegedly being beholden to Russia when we all know Clinton is beholden to Israel

  2. Boomer
    August 6, 2016, 9:20 am

    As usual, Israel has a green light when a U.S. election is coming up. And there is always another election coming up.

  3. Ossinev
    August 6, 2016, 10:58 am

    “We remain troubled”. Ouch !! – the Yahoo and his fellow QuasiNazis must be trembling at the thought of their Zio poodle superpower being “troubled”. It might lead to a few precious dollars being deducted as a token gesture from their upcoming $3 billion (or is it $5 billion) per annum “aid” package. May not seem a lot but you know it equates to the loss of say a few ornamental plants to give that homely feeling to those new West Bank colonial apartments

  4. Truthbug
    August 6, 2016, 2:37 pm

    This is the behavior, no doubt, of a racist state. And it’s a very aggressive policy, because squatting on other peoples’ land, over enough time, becomes ownership. Who could kick the descendants of those settlers out of those homes after a generation or two? And as the Palestinian population dwindles to less and less of a minority in Jerusalem and elsewhere, how could the world see their land as “Palestine”? What really puzzles me is why the US Jewish community, which seems to be in the main quite well organized, doesn’t speak up to condemn this Zionist madness which is producing so much atrocity, in direct contrast to basic Jewish religious beliefs? To me, it’s much like the failure of the Christian denominations in the US to massively oppose the co-opt of Christianity by GW Bush during his presidential terms.

    • Mooser
      August 6, 2016, 6:04 pm

      “Who could kick the descendants of those settlers out of those homes after a generation or two?”

      Oh, please. They can be generously compensated and moved, like precious china serving-pieces, to somewhere else, in Israel.
      Where I am suuuuure they will get along beautifully with their Jewish and Palestinian neighbors, and not turn to crime.

  5. Cazador
    August 6, 2016, 7:24 pm

    «The U.S. government is on the record as saying Israeli settlements in the occupied territory hinder the possibility of an independent Palestinian state, and the U.S. State Department recently issued a special statement addressing concern over Israeli settlement building and the “risk [of] entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

    «State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the latest announcement of 770 settlement units in Gilo, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem, is “part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalizations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

    «“We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” Kirby added»

    The usual US complaint/excuse duo, just to show the world the Exceptional feels baaaaad…

    There are international laws that haven’t been respected by zionists since they landed in Palestine from 1945 on… Then on the official day of the creation of Israel or the day after, all hell started breaking loose for Palestinians, who were murdered by the thousands, forcing about another 800,000 to flee for their lives, leaving their homes, villages, cities, farming lands, orchards, water sources behind. Where was the US back then to show its international displeasure of the zionists’ murderous and land stealing actions. Now that Israel zionists are obviously an apartheid, genocide promoters, besides being fascists, all we’ll hear from the US is faint concern… If it were the Russians doing the same as zionists to their neighbours, the whole world would be warned by the US, and the UN General Assembly and Security Council would be meeting and addressing the Russian actions in the toughest accusatory attitude possible.

    Since Israeli zionists are well supported by US zionists, zionist and/or pro-zionist media owners, banksters, politicians, AIPAC, all we’ll ever hear from the US will be faint concern. If the US were a real democracy with a fair, uncontrolled electoral system with more than only two electoral parties copying each other, we would at least have the «impression» that the US are a real democracy for the people by the people, and not a free-for-all oligark system whose main goal is to control the whole world, starting by dividing the North African countries to better rule them for the specific goal of controlling the oil reserves under their feet. If the US really wants to show concern of importance, it could save from 3 to 4 billion every year from now to kingdom come.

    Here’s what Albert Einstein had to say, write in fact, about the Zionist project that was controlling the new state of Israel, a fascist one (his own words), in a letter to the New York Times on December 4, 1948, co-signed by 26 other NYC Jewish intellectuals, doctors, celebrities… He was asking the US president not to meed Menachem Begin and not to support the creation of Israel, the fascist Israel…

    https://archive.org/details/AlbertEinsteinLetterToTheNewYorkTimes.December41948

    THE LETTER INTRO and a little more:

    Albert Einstein Letter to The New York Times. December 4, 1948 New Palestine Party. Visit of Menachen Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed
    by Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook, et.al.

    Usage Public Domain
    Topics Einstein, Arendt, anti-fascism, Zionism, Palestine, Irgun, Israel

    New Palestine Party. Visit of Menachen Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed. A letter to The New York Times. Saturday December 4, 1948 by Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook, et.al.

    New Palestine Party. Visit of Menachen Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed. A letter to The New York Times, published in the “Books” section (Page 12) of Saturday December 4, 1948

    by Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook, et.al.

    Source: Text from original microfilm

    TO THE EDITORS OF NEW YORK TIMES:
    Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

    The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

    Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

    The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

  6. Cazador
    August 6, 2016, 7:56 pm

    For those who never heard of it, and I strongly doubt they would be readers of Mondoweiss; just in case…:

    OCCUPATION 101 gives an eye/mind opening on occupation throughout the world, but concentrates on the Palestinians’ Occupation of their Land by European zionists (1 hr 28 min):

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