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UN: Israel’s demolitions, displacement of Palestinians at highest level in seven years

Israeli occupation forces demolished 41 structures in Khirbet Tana near Nablus on Wednesday, according to a UN statement on March 4.

The demolition displaced ten families with 36 members, including 11 children, and affected the livelihoods of five additional families.

The demolished structures included a dozen donated as humanitarian assistance, and one of the destroyed structures had served as an elementary school for nine students. Israeli authorities had destroyed the community’s original school in 2011.

Khirbet Tana is located within an Israeli-imposed ‘firing zone’, where the occupation forces conduct training exercises. Palestinian residents are thus denied building permits and are often subject to “waves of demolitions”, according to the UN.

Some 18 percent of the Occupied West Bank has been declared a ‘firing zone’ by the Israeli army, with 38 Palestinian communities located within these areas.

Since the beginning of 2016, Israeli occupation forces have destroyed or dismantled 323 homes and other structures across the West Bank, displacing 440 – more than half of whom were children.

A further 1,700 Palestinians lost structures related to their sources of income, while a third of the targeted structures were provided as humanitarian assistance. According to the UN, “these are some of the highest levels of demolition and displacement recorded in a similar time frame since 2009.”

In February, senior UN official Robert Piper, urged a halt to the demolitions. While most demolitions take place on the “spurious legal grounds that Palestinians do not possess building permits”, Piper said, “only 1.5 per cent of Palestinian permit applications are approved” by the Israeli authorities.

Israeli NGO B’Tselem similarly warned last month that Israel has “stepped up efforts to expel Palestinian communities from vast areas in the West Bank.”

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