UN: Israel demolishes 6 EU-funded structures in January, 44 schools awaiting demolition

Jerusalem,Israeli authorities demolished six European Union-funded structures in Area C of the occupied West Bank in January under the pretext of lack of building permit while 44 schools have pending demolition orders, a report on Israeli demolition of Palestinian structures during January by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday.

OCHA said in another report also published on Friday on the protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories covering the first two weeks of February that the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 25 structures in Area C and occupied East Jerusalem on the grounds of lack of building permits, including a donor-funded school.

As a result of the latest Israeli measures, 33 Palestinians, including 18 children, were displaced and another 135 were otherwise affected.

OCHA said two classrooms serving 26 Palestinian 3rd and 4th grade school children were demolished in the Bedouin and refugee community of Abu Nuwar, in Area C on the outskirts of Jerusalem on February 4. This is one of the 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank at risk of forcible transfer, due to the coercive environment exerted on them, including relocation plans by the Israeli authorities.

It is estimated that at least 44 schools – 36 in Area C and 8 in East Jerusalem – have pending demolition or stop-work orders. Of the other structures targeted during the reporting period, 15 were in East Jerusalem (Silwan, Beit Hanina, and al-Isawiya) and nine were in Area C, including in the herding community of Um al Jmal (Tubas) and in Wadi Qana (Salfit).

The six EU-funded structures demolished in January – two residential and four animal shelters worth about Euros 7,700 – were in the Palestinian Bedouin community of al Jiftlik Abu al Ajaj, in the central Jordan Valley. They were provided in response to a demolition that occurred a year ago.

The demolition affected a family residing in an area of this community, which is designated by the Israeli authorities as a ‘firing zone’; the road leading to that area was also damaged and blocked following the demolitions.

Another eight structures funded by the EU and its member states were served with stop-work orders and face imminent demolition on the ground they were being built without a permit.

OCHA said Israel demolished or seized 32 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank in January, approximately the same number of structures as the 2017 monthly average. As a result, 37 people were displaced and another 82 were otherwise affected.

It said nearly 60 percent of the structures, or 19 out of 32, were in East Jerusalem, all demolished on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.

The largest incident occurred in the neighborhood of al-Isawiya, where the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem along with the National Parks Authority demolished 12 commercial and animal-related structures.

Another two structures, two multi-story buildings under construction, were demolished in Bir Onah, a residential area within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, which is physically severed from the city by the apartheid barrier.

Four incidents took place in Area C in January involving the demolition or seizure of nine structures were also on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued building permits.

In 2017, two EU-funded schools in the communities of Abu Nuwar and Jubbet Adh Dhib, in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem governorates, were affected by seizures on grounds of lack of Israeli permits, and a kindergarten in the Jabal al-Baba community in the Jerusalem governorate, not funded by the EU, was demolished.

Children living in other Area C communities lacking a school often must walk or travel long distances to reach their schools and are exposed to settler harassment or searches at checkpoints. These constraints undermine the quality of education and increase the chances of early dropout.

Meanwhile, during a military operation in Jenin city, reportedly aimed at arresting the suspected perpetrators of a shooting attack in which an Israeli settler was killed, the Israeli military bulldozed and destroyed another four structures, including three homes and a greenhouse.

Source: International Islamic News Agency