The Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for the occupied Palestinian territory, Yvonne Helle, said on Wednesday that the Israeli authorities have carried out their largest demolition operation in years against Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank.
“So far in 2020,” explained Helle, “689 structures have been demolished across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, more than in any full year since 2016, rendering 869 Palestinians homeless.” She said that the lack of Israeli-issued building permits “is typically cited as a reason, even though, due to the restrictive and discriminatory planning regime, Palestinians can almost never obtain such permits.”
Demolitions, added Helle, are a key means of creating an environment designed to coerce Palestinians to leave their homes.
The UN official pointed out that the latest demolitions took place on Tuesday in the occupied Jordan Valley. “Seventy-three people, including 41 children, were displaced when Israeli authorities demolished their homes and other structures and destroyed belongings in the Palestinian community of Humsa Al-Bqai’a. Three quarters of the community’s population lost their shelters, making this the largest forced displacement incident in over four years.”
The property destroyed, she noted, included homes, animal shelters, latrines and solar panels. “These were essential to livelihoods, wellbeing and dignity of community members, whose rights have been violated.”