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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Israel demolishes Palestinian bedouin homes, again

Israel demolishes Palestinian bedouin homes, again


January 24, 2012

Israeli forces overnight demolished the home of a Bedouin family near Jerusalem for the fifth time, an Israeli NGO said, as Israel's uprooting of Palestinians from their native lands intensify.

Israel's Civil Administration, the military body that oversees the West Bank, confirmed the demolitions.

"During the night, there were five demolitions of illegal structures that were occupied by Bedouin populations. We're talking about illegal structures that were built without the permission needed," Civil Administration spokesman Guy Inbar said.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said Israeli forces had demolished Beit Arabiya, a family home and "peace center" that has now been demolished five times since 1994.

"Beit Arabiya was issued a demolition order by Israeli authorities back in 1994, following their failure to grant a building permit. It has since been demolished four times, to be rebuilt by ICAHD activists," the group said.

Other structures demolished included three homes, along with structures for housing animals.

"Twenty people, including young children, were displaced, left exposed to the harsh desert environment," ICAHD said.

The group said its co-director Itay Epshtain was "beaten and sustained minor injuries" during the demolitions.

The demolitions took place in the Anata Hills, near Jerusalem, in an area of the West Bank that is under full Israeli civil and military control, where residents must obtain Israeli construction permits before building homes.

Israel says it demolishes structures that have been built without the required permission, but Palestinians say they are rarely granted permits, despite being the native inhabitants of the land.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, condemned the demolitions in a statement.

"These demolitions happened in the dead of night, it was freezing cold, in a community without electricity," he said.

"Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to deliver services, not as in this case, to demolish them," he added.

Last year, a coalition of international rights groups and aid organizations said Israel's demolition of homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem had displaced more than 1,000 people in 2011, twice that of the previous year and the highest number since 2005.

Israel has sped up its construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in defiance of international law, while continuing to demolish Palestinian homes.

Activists and some Palestinian politicians say Israel is attempting to Judaize Arab neighborhoods, and cleanse areas of indigenous Palestinians to highlight Jewish 'facts on the ground', thus impeding meaningful attempts to establish a Palestinian state.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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