Sharp increase in West Bank home demolition

Published: 
22 Jun 2011

Civil Administration demolished more Palestinian homes this year than in all of last year. Last week alone, 33 residential structures were demolished in the Jordan Valley and southern Hebron hills

In the past week, Civil Administration inspectors, accompanied by soldiers and Border Police officers, demolished 33 residential structures in the Palestinian communities Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh, and Yarza, all in the Jordan Valley, and in Khirbet Bir al-‘Id, in the southern Hebron hills. These were home to 238 persons, 129 of them minors. According to B'Tselem’s figures, since the beginning of 2011, the Civil Administration has demolished 103 residential structures in Area C, most of them tents, huts, and tin shacks, in which 706 persons lived (including 341 minors). [These figures include only residential structures that were demolished and not those used for livestock, storage, and baking].

This is a sharp increase in home demolitions in Area C. In 2010, by comparison, the Civil Administration demolished 86 residential structures. In 2009, the figure was 28. See full figures

Israel continues to control all aspects of Palestinian life in Area C, including planning and building. Yet few Civil Administration outline plans have been made for Palestinian communities, and they do not enable any construction or development beyond what already exists, making it impossible for Palestinians to build legally in these areas. 

Some of the demolished structures were in places the army had declared “firing zones.” Almost half of the land in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area has been declared as “firing zones,” even areas located along main traffic arteries or next to land cultivated by settlers; some of the land declared as such a zone is actually cultivated by settlers. The declaration means Israel has prohibited Palestinians from living in these areas, although Palestinian communities existed in them prior to the occupation.

The discrimination in enforcing the planning and building laws is evident in Khirbet Bir al-‘Id, next to which the Mizpe Ya’ir outpost was built in 1998. The outpost is considered illegal under Israeli government interpretation, too. As opposed to the Civil Administration's policy of demolishing Palestinian structures built without a permit, the state did nothing to prevent establishment of the settler outpost and approved its connection to water and electricity. The Ministry of Housing has funded infrastructure for the outpost, including an access road.

B'Tselem calls on the Civil Administration to cease its policy of demolishing Palestinian residential structures in Area C. The Administration must prepare outline plans for Palestinian communities there that will reflect the needs of the population and enable these communities to develop.