Outstanding Israeli Demolition Orders Threaten 11,000 Palestinian-owned Structures

JERUSALEM, September 7, 2015 (WAFA) – Official data released by the Israeli authorities indicate that over 11,000 demolition orders affecting an estimated 13,000 Palestinian-owned structures, including homes,  are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

It said the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities, including the ways in which public land is allocated, makes it “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to obtain building permits in most of Area C. Even basic residential and livelihood structures, such as a tent or a fence, require a building permit.

“This situation impedes the development of adequate housing, infrastructure and livelihoods in the Area C Palestinian communities, and has significant consequences for the entire West Bank population,” added the report. “Those Palestinian residents who attempt to stay are often left with no choice but to build without authorization to meet their basic needs.”

OCHA said while only a minority of the orders issued are executed, these orders do not expire and “leave affected households in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat”. “Where the orders are implemented, they have resulted in displacement and disruption of livelihoods, the entrenchment of poverty and increased aid dependency.”

Area C is a home to approximately 300,000 Palestinians currently residing in 532 residential areas. Many of these residential areas are located entirely in Area C, but, in other cases, the area is part of a larger community, part of which is located in Areas A or B.

Israel retains direct control over Area C, which encompasses more than 60 per cent of the West Bank and is home to approximately 300,000 Palestinians. Due to the lack of adequate planning and discriminatory allocation of public land, it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in most of Area C.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are also about 356,000 Israelis residing in 135 settlements and some 100 settlement ‘outposts’ established in Area C; both are considered to contravene international law, while the settlement ‘outposts’ are also considered illegal under Israeli law.