Under threat: Demolition orders in Area C of the West Bank [EN/AR/HE]

Introduction

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.1

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.

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.
A recent World Bank report, for example, estimated that if “businesses and farms were permitted to develop in Area C, this would add as much as 35 per cent to Palestinian GDP”.2 Those Palestinian residents who attempt to stay are often left with no choice but to build without authorization to meet their basic needs.

Structures built without permits are regularly served with demolition orders. 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.

While the demolition of Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank is systematically monitored by the humanitarian community, the issue of demolition orders has received less attention. A database released by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) this year sheds light on the scope of this phenomenon. The dataset includes detailed information on all the demolition orders issued in Palestinian communities and Israeli settlements across Area C between 1988 and 2014.3 This OCHA report explores these data and highlights some of the key trends to emerge.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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