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UN urges Israel to stop illegal settlement programmes

ISRAEL has been asked to stop demolishing Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, with the United Nations saying that Tel Aviv is in breach of international law.

Lynn Hastings, UN humanitarian co-ordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, reported on a recent visit to the northern Jordan Valley, where she said that Israelis were forcing Palestinians out of their homes.

“I visited the community of Humsa al-Baqai’a, which is situated some hundreds of metres into a firing zone in the northern West Bank… The homes and belongings of the families living there were demolished or confiscated five times by the Israeli authorities since the beginning of February,” she said.

“Tents, food, water tanks and fodder for their livestock have all been confiscated, despite repeated calls by the international community for these actions to stop in accordance with international law.

“As we have noted previously, situations where communities are put under pressure to move raises a real risk of forcible transfer.” 

According to Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem, some 800 Palestinians were made homeless last year by the Israeli authorities demolishing their homes. This was the highest figure since 2016, when 1,500 Palestinians were left without shelter.

Israel often claims that the buildings were erected without the required permits, but they are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain. In some cases, the authorities force Palestinians to destroy their own homes or pay the municipality for the cost of the demolition.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. Despite UN condemnations and warnings that international law is being violated, no concrete action is taken.

Ms Hastings called for an immediate end to the illegal settlement programme and for humanitarian agencies to be allowed access to Humsa al-Baqai’a.

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