Demolitions by Israel of Palestinian homes in the West Bank tripled in 2010, figures from an Israeli human rights group showed on Wednesday, with a big increase in demolitions in the Jordan Valley.Yearly figures published by B’Tselem showed that Israel demolished 86 homes across the West Bank in 2010, compared with 28 a year earlier.

Last year’s house demolitions left 472 people homeless, almost half of them children.

Demolitions more than doubled in the Tubas region, which is in the Jordan Valley, rising to 51 from 24 in 2009 and leaving some 219 people homeless, 94 of them children, the group said.

They also increased sharply in Nablus, which also encompasses part of the central Jordan Valley, with 19 demolitions last year, compared with none the year before. Some 134 people were made homeless, 51 of them children.

B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said the group had noticed an increase in demolition activity in the Jordan Valley and in the south Hebron Hills area, which has mainly affected Bedouin-owned structures built without an Israeli building permit.

‘The trend now is toward demolishing temporary accommodation, usually put up by the Bedouin,’ she said, describing them as non-permanent structures, but stressed they served as homes.

‘The net result is the same — people are displaced,’ she told AFP, saying it was not clear why the authorities were focusing their attention on these two particular areas.

‘The ongoing policy seems to be aimed at pushing the nomadic community out of these areas and towards the population centres,’ she said.

A spokesman for the Israeli Civil Administration, the branch of the army responsible for all building issues in Area C, which is under Israeli control, said he was not aware of any rise in demolitions.

‘If there was a rise, it may be because we now have more inspectors to monitor compliance’ with building regulations, Guy Inbar told AFP, saying the number of inspectors had risen at the end of 2009 when Israel began a 10-month freeze of Jewish settlement construction.

Figures from the UN humanitarian agency OCHA were similar to B’Tselem’s, with the number of home demolitions in Area C of the West Bank rising from 56 in 2009 to 113 last year, and 478 people made homeless.

Area C is under full Israeli control and covers some 60 percent of the occupied West Bank. Building permits are seldom granted as they must be requested from the Israeli Civil Administration. Around 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected, with the Civil Administration only granting around 12 permits a year.