Israel has dramatically increased the pace of demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank in 2010, in defiance of international calls, a rights group says.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said on Wednesday that the number of Palestinian-owned buildings destroyed by Israel in 2010 tripled, compared with that a year earlier.
Annual figures published by B’Tselem shows that in 2010, Israel demolished 86 homes across the West Bank, compared with 28 in 2009.
The highest rise in demolitions was reported to occur in the Jordan Valley with the Bedouin-owned structures as the main targets.
"The trend now is toward demolishing temporary accommodation, usually put up by the Bedouin," B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said, stressing that although they are non-permanent structures, they serve as homes.
"The net result is the same — people are displaced," she added.
According to B’Tselem, last year’s house demolitions left 472 Palestinians homeless, almost half of them children.
Tel Aviv refuses to provide any figures of the demolitions. However, the latest figures are similar to that released by the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.
Another Israeli NGO, Bimkom, says Tel Aviv rejects around 95 percent of Palestinian applications for building permits.
Israel says demolition orders are issued for those structures that do not have a valid construction permit. Palestinians, however, say it is virtually impossible to obtain the necessary approval from Israel’s municipal authorities in al-Quds (Jerusalem).
In November last year, Israeli troops demolished a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank village of Khirbet Yarza, claiming that it was built without permit.
Palestinian villagers said the mosque was built before the Israeli occupation of 1967.
UN officials have repeatedly warned against such demolitions, saying they violate international law.
Israel occupied the West Bank during the Six Day War in 1967, settling nearly 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.