Middle East Monitor / May 23, 2023
The Israeli occupation authorities have demolished 42 Palestinian-owned buildings in occupied Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, including 17 homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said in its latest report. The latest demolitions took place within the first two weeks of this month.
At least 50 Palestinians were displaced by the demolitions, including 23 children. The livelihoods of more than 600 others were affected, said OCHA.
Moreover, nine of the buildings were provided by donors as part of humanitarian aid, including a school. They were demolished on the grounds that they lacked construction and renovation permits issued by the occupation authorities, the report revealed. Such building licences are notoriously difficult and very expensive for Palestinians to obtain, and are in any case rarely issued. With growing families, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem must either extend their homes or build new ones without licences.
Most of the demolitions were targeted in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, including the donor-funded school in Bethlehem. The school had five classrooms and more than sixty pupils between the first and fourth grades.
The remaining demolitions, according to the report, took place in occupied East Jerusalem, which resulted in the displacement of seven families with 39 members, including 22 children.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 June War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.
In addition to the demolitions, the report said that from the beginning of this year until 15 May, Israeli forces killed 108 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This was more than double the death toll of 51 in the same period last year.
The report also called out Israel for its punitive measures against the relatives of those accused of committing crimes. “Punitive demolitions are a form of collective punishment and are illegal under international law, because they target the families of the perpetrators of the attacks or the alleged attacks,” explained OCHA.
Under international law, both the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied territories. All settlement building for Israeli Jewish settlers is, therefore, illegal.