Despite coronavirus outbreak: Israel ramps up demolition of West Bank Palestinian homes in June

Last month saw a spike in Israeli demolitions, which left 151 Palestinians, including 84 minors, homeless -- despite the danger of remaining without shelter during a pandemic.

In June alone, Israel demolished 30 Palestinian homes in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) -- the same number demolished throughout the entire first five months of 2020. The June demolitions left 100 Palestinians, 53 of them minors, homeless. That month, Israel also demolished 33 non-residential structures. In total, Israel demolished 63 structures belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank in June.

Israel also significantly stepped up demolitions in East Jerusalem in June, leaving 51 people, including 31 minors, homeless. The number of homes demolished -- 13 -- is double the monthly average in the first five months of 2020. Eight of the homes demolished last month were torn down by their owners, after they received a demolition order from the municipality and wished to avoid paying the cost of the demolition and fines to the municipality. Three non-residential structures were also demolished in East Jerusalem in June.

The world is grappling with an unprecedented heath crisis of as-yet unknown magnitude. Nevertheless, Israeli authorities continue to invest time and effort into abusing the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank, as part of decades-long attempts to drive them out of the area, and to similarly mistreat Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Until the pandemic broke out, Israel regularly used the pretext of "law enforcement" to justify its policy of ongoing demolition on a massive scale. In April, Israel pledged before the UN not to demolish homes as long as the health crisis was underway and isolation guidelines were in place. Even then, Israel stressed it would not refrain from demolishing humanitarian infrastructure. The swift return to demolitions once the Palestinian Authority lifted its temporary lockdown proves the pledge was a PR move aimed solely at deflecting criticism.