OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are at risk of being displaced because of Israeli orders to raze their homes, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned on Tuesday, May 27.
"To date, more than 3,000 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank have pending demolition orders, which can be immediately executed without prior warning," the OCHA said in a new report cited by Agence France Presse (AFP).
"At least 10 small communities throughout the West Bank are at risk of being almost entirely displaced due to the large number of pending demolitions orders."
The report said most of the demolition orders were against buildings located in the so-called Area C, the 61 percent of the occupied West Bank where Israel retains full administrative control.
It added that the majority of the orders were issued on the pretext of having no construction permits.
The UN report stressed that Israel, which has the sole authority to issue such permits, rarely do so.
Over 94 percent of applications for building permits in Area C submitted by Palestinians between January 2000 and September 2007 have been denied, according to official data.
In a recent report, the Israeli Peace Now group warned that Israel was pressuring the Palestinian residents of Area C to leave.
"The denial of permits for Palestinians on such a large scale raises the fear that there is a specific policy by the authorities to encourage a ‘silent transfer’ of the Palestinian population from Area C."
On the Rise
The OCHA warned that the number of demolished Palestinian homes has reached alarming levels this year.
It said 124 houses were razed in the first quarter of 2008 compared with 107 for the whole of 2007, leading to the displacement of 435 Palestinians, including 135 children.
Some 5,000 demolition orders have been issued between January 2000 and September 2007 and over 1,600 Palestinian buildings have been flattened.
The UN agency stressed that such Israeli practices are destroying the lives of thousands of Palestinian families who lose their homes.
It added that Palestinian children bear the full brunt of such acts.
"Children are frequently disproportionately affected by the demolition of their homes and the subsequent displacement of their families."
Amnesty international has recently urged Israeli authorities to cancel all demolition orders and provide reparation to Palestinians whose homes and properties have been destroyed.
(IslamOnline.net and agencies)