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UN: Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes reach record high

December 29, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Israel demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied territory in 2016 than in any year since the United Nations began documenting demolitions in 2009, while Israel also increased restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the occupied territory in 2016.

The unprecedented demolition campaign left some 1,593 Palestinians homeless and affected the livelihoods of another 7,101, according to preliminary analysis of data collected by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN agency’s documentation encompassed the occupied West Bank as well as East Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities demolished or seized 1,089 Palestinian-owned structures since the beginning of 2016 until 28 December.

The “vast majority” of the Palestinian structures were destroyed or seized for lacking Israeli-issued building permits, according to the report.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, forcing most Palestinians to build illegally. However the 550,000 Jewish settlers residing in illegal Israeli settlements scattered across Palestinian territory are given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

OCHA’s newly released records of home demolitions came as Israel has come under increasing international pressure to cease building illegal settlements on Palestinian land in the occupied territory, with the UN Security Council passing a resolution condemning the Israeli policy last week.