(UPDATE) Israel Demolishes 18 Structures in Jordan Valley, Hands Demolition Notices for 20 Houses, Demolishes Home in Hebron

WEST BANK, August 5, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities Wednesday demolished 18 Palestinian-owned agricultural structures in northern Jordan Valley, as well as handed Palestinians near Hebron demolition notices for 20 homes, and demolished a home in Beit Ummar, according to local sources.

‏Motaz Bisharat, in charge of the Jordan Valley settlements file in the Palestinian Authority, said Israeli army forces broke into al-Aqaba, Mayta, and Yazra, small villages in the northern Jordan Valley, and demolished agricultural structures used as storage sheds and as animal shelters, in addition to two residential structures. Forces further uprooted an electricity pole in the village of al-Aqaba.

In Hebron, forces demolished a 60-square-meter house in the town of Beit Ummar without any prior notice, displacing 8 family members. The house belongs to local Azmi al-Ajloni.

Meanwhile in al-Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, Israeli army and bulldozers demolished a house under construction, citing unpermitted construction as a pretext.

The army also notified Palestinians in the camp of their intentions to demolish 20 homes under the same pretext.

Both villages are located in Area C, under complete Israeli military control, where Israel rarely grants construction permits for Palestinian locals, forcing many of them to embark on construction without obtaining permits.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli authorities prohibit Palestinian construction in vast areas of Area C citing various rationales, such as “defining these areas as state land, survey land, firing zones, nature reserves and natural parks, or by incorporating lands into the jurisdiction of settlements and regional councils.”

Most Palestinians are forced to build without a permit to meet their needs. In many cases, displacement is due to cumulative pressure created by a combination of factors, including settler violence, movement restrictions (including the Barrier) and restricted access to services and resources, said OCHA.

It said that, “Despite a decline in the number of structures demolished in 2014 compared to 2013 (601 vs. 663), the number of people displaced increased by almost 10 per cent.”

Four houses were demolished on punitive grounds in 2014 for the first time since 2005, added OCHA.

On average 64 structures were demolished in 2015 on a monthly basis in the first three months of 2015, which is higher than its equivalent figures in 2014 and 2013 (51 and 53, respectively, reported OCHA.

Meanwhile, B’Tselem estimated that from 2006 until 30 June 2015, Israel demolished at least 876 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem), causing 4,105 people – including at least 2,011 minors – to lose their homes.

To be noted, Israel is planning to annex the Jordan Valley into a completely Israeli area, primarily in agriculture, targeting to ban territorial contiguity between a future Palestinian state and the rest of the Arab world.