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West Bank demolitions and displacement: An Overview | August 2020

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sharp increase in demolition- related displacements in August.

  • 21 stuctures demolished or sized within or next to the E1 settlement expansion area.

  • Over half of demolitions in East Jerusalem in 2020 carried out by the structures’ owners.

  • Seven donor-funded aid structures demolished/seized, while another nine placed at risk.

OVERVIEW

In August, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 88 Palestinian-owned structures, all but one on grounds of a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. A total of 202 people were displaced as a result, and nearly 450 others had their livelihoods or access to services affected.

Compared with the monthly averages between January and July 2020, August witnessed a nearly fourfold increase in the number of people displaced (202 vs.

58) and 55 per cent increase in the number of structures targeted (88 vs. 56). The continuous targeting of structures and displacement of Palestinans amid the ongoing pandemic remains of serious concern.

In Area C, 63 structures were demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities this month. Seven of them had been provided as humanitarian assistance, at a value of over 9,300 euros. Another nine donor-funded aid structures, at a value of over 50,000 euros, received stop work orders.

The largest incident took place on 25 August in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Wadi as Seeq (Ramallah), where nine structures, including three homes and five animal shelters, were demolished: 24 people, including 11 children were displaced, and 13 others had their livelihoods affected.

In six separate incidents also in Area C, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 21 structures located within, or next to, an area known as E1 slated for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adummim settlement in the Jerusalem governorate. Last March, the authorities advanced two detailed plans providing for the construction of nearly 3,500 settlement housing units in E1; the period for the submission of objections to the plans ended on 28 August. The approval of these plans may expedite the forcible transfer of some 3,700 Palestinians living in 18 Bedouin communities located in this area.

Also this month, the Israeli authorities demolished a home and a water reservoir in the Fraseen herding community in Jenin. The reservoir had been used for irrigation, as well as livestock and domestic consumption. This community, where most structures have received demolition orders, is located in-between the Israeli settlement of Hermesh and a settlement outpost established about a year ago as an agricultural farm.

The demolition in Fraseen was carried out on the basis of Military Order 1797, which allows for the expedited removal of unlicensed structures deemed as “new”, within 96 hours of the issuance of the ‘removal order’. The use of this order, which is still considered by the Israeli authorities as a ‘pilot’, has resulted in the demolition of at least 66 structures since it came into effect in July 2019. The humanitarian community has repeatedly raised concerns about this procedure, which significantly narrows the ability of affected people to be heard before a judicial body.

In East Jerusalem, 24 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished this month, half of them by their owners following the issuance of demolition orders. Demolitions carried out by the structure owners have been on the rise in 2020, accounting for over 50 cent of all demolitions in East Jerusalem, compared with 26 per cent in 2019. The increase is attributed to an amendment to the Israeli Planning and Building Law that entered into force last year, which fines the owners of an illegal structure for any additional day the structure is used. The increased fines are in addition to the high fees the owners must pay the municipality for the demolition of the structure, if they do not remove that structure by themselves.

Additionally, a home under construction was demolished in a section of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sur Bahir, which is designated as Area A, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for planning issues. The demolition was carried out citing security reasons, connected to the location of the building in a ‘buffer zone’ next to the Barrier.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.