A report by the United Nations released on Wednesday revealed that 3,000 homes in the West Bank are under the imminent threat of destruction by Israeli forces. The homes in question were built by indigenous Palestinians without Israeli permits – according to the UN report, 94% of permit applications by Palestinians since 2000 have been denied.Palestinians, indigenous to the land now occupied by Israel, have to apply for permits in order to build on their own land. This situation has become increasingly difficult since 1967, when the state of Israel began to occupy all parts of what was once Palestine, and move hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants to settle on land seized from Palestinians.
The most recent count by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows that the Israeli government’s plan to take over more than 60% of the West Bank (one of two Palestinian territories, where most Palestinians now live) is well underway. Since 1990, more than 500,000 Israelis have been transferred to live on illegally-seized Palestinian land.
According to the new report, the 3,000 homes to be demolished include ten whole villages which will be completely displaced from their ancestral land and turned into refugees, as Israeli settlements are constructed on their land.
The homes in question are located in ‘Area C’, which was left under Israeli control during the Oslo Peace Agreement of 1993, to be renegotiated within five years. The Palestinian Authority agreed to the conditions of the Oslo Agreement under the presumption that the land, which constitutes 60% of the West Bank, would be returned to Palestinian control after five years. This re-negotiation never happened, and the areas remain under total Israeli control. Most Israeli settlements that have been constructed on Palestinian land in the last ten years have been constructed on ‘Area C’ land.
The UN Report stated that in the first quarter of 2008, Israeli authorities demolished 124 structures as compared with 107 for the whole of 2007, leading to the displacement of 435 Palestinians, 135 of them children. The Agency voiced concern that the upcoming 3,000 demolitions would disproportionately impact children, who make up more than 15% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank.