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West Bank demolitions and displacement: An Overview | January 2021

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HIGHLIGHTS

• 14 per cent increase in targeting of structures during January, compared with the 2020 monthly average.

• Nearly 60 per cent of targeted structures in Area C seized without prior warning.

• Under-construction mosque demolished on the basis of Military Order 1797 in Hebron governorate.

• Israeli settlers damage donor-funded aid structures.

OVERVIEW

Latest development: On 1, 3 and 8 February, the Israeli authorities seized or demolished 62 structures in the Bedouin community of Humsa Al Bqai’a, in the northern Jordan Valley. As a result of these three incidents, 60 people, including 35 children, were displaced thrice within eight days and are now at imminent risk of forcible transfer. The community had already suffered a mass-demolition by the Israeli authorities on 3 November 2020, during which 83 structures were demolished. For more information, see Humsa al Bqai’a | Flash Update #2.

In January, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 81 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This resulted in the displacement of 69 people, including 32 children, and otherwise affected the livelihoods, or access to services, of over 700 others. All the structures were located in Area C or East Jerusalem and were targeted due to a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. January’s total represents a 14 per cent increase, compared with the monthly average in 2020.

Fifteen (15) of the structures, all located in seven Area C communities, had been provided as humanitarian aid, for a total value of over 22,500 euros. Another 33 donor-funded structures, at a value of nearly 90,000 euros, were handed demolition or stop-work orders, the highest number of donor-funded structures placed at risk in a single month in recent years. Additionally, in Biddya (Salfit) and Ash Shuyukh (Hebron), Israeli settlers destroyed or damaged some 400 donor-funded trees and various infrastructure materials, for a value of over 11,000 euros.

Of all the structures targeted by the Israeli authorities in Area C in January, over 30 per cent were located in Bedouin and herder communities. In Beit Iksa Bedouin community, the Israeli authorities seized nine Palestinian-owned structures, including six homes, and demolished one latrine, leaving 27 people, including 14 children, displaced. Four of these had been provided as humanitarian assistance, in response to a previous demolition in October 2020.

On 27 January, ten structures (residential and agricultural) were seized by the Israeli authorities in Hammamat Al Maleh, a Bedouin and herder community which is spread over three separate locations (Al Maleh, Al Burj and Al Meiteh), displacing three adults and four children, and affecting the livelihoods of another 46 people. Two days prior, on 25 January, the Israeli authorities handed out demolition orders to the community, affecting around 18 structures.

Also in Fasayil village (Jericho) the Israeli authorities seized ten structures, including six donor-funded homes and animal shelters, displacing two refugee households, comprising 13 people, including five children. According to the affected people in Beit Iksa Bedouin community, Hammamat Al Maleh and Fasayil village, the Israeli authorities had provided no prior notice, neither written nor verbal, about their intention to seize the structures.

Nearly 60 per cent of all targeted structures in Area C in January were seized without prior warning, a trend that has been on the rise in recent years. In 2020, 30 per cent of all structures targeted in Area C were seized without prior warning, up from 11 per cent in 2017 and eight per cent in 2016.

Also in Area C, in Umm Qussa community (Hebron), the Israeli authorities demolished an under-construction mosque intended to serve community members who previously had to travel to the nearest village for prayers. During the demolition incident, the Israeli authorities damaged parts of a donor-funded water network, disrupting the water distribution to about half of the village residents. The demolition took place on the basis of Military Order 1797, which provides only a 96-hour notice and very limited grounds for legally challenging a demolition. Since coming into effect in July 2019, 110 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished based on this order, 11 per cent of all the structures targeted in Area C since July 2019.

On 31 December, the Israeli authorities indicated that they will fund settlement regional councils’ efforts to monitor unlicensed Palestinian construction in Area C, possibly by using patrols, drones and other means, as an addition to existing mechanisms. The Israeli Settlement Affairs Ministry has reportedly allocated about ILS20 million (USD$6 million) for such endeavours.

Two structures were also demolished in East Jerusalem: one uninhabited residential structure was demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality, and one inhabited home by the owner, following the issuance of a demolition order. The latter demolition took place in Beit Hanina, leaving two households displaced, including one female-headed household, comprising four adults and three children.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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