The United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Summary for June 2020

  • 100 structures demolished or seized in June, the highest level since January 2017.
  • Of the targeted structures, ten were humanitarian aid, including a tent used as a quarantine site.
  • Only 0.009% (6 out of 700) housing units applied for by Palestinians in Area C were issued permits.

In June 2020, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 100 Palestinian-owned structures, a sharp increase compared with previous months and the highest such figure since January 2017. As a monthly average, the number of structures targeted during the first half of 2020 is the same as during the whole year of 2019.

The continuous targeting of Palestinian properties amidst the ongoing pandemic, especially inhabited homes (25), water and sanitation structures (5) and a tent used as a quarantine site, remains of serious concern, as it undermines the capacity of already vulnerable communities to prevent infection.

77 of this month’s demolitions and seizures were in Area C and 23 in East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of nearly 140 people, while over 400 others had their livelihoods, or access to services, affected. All the incidents were under the pretext of a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.

In July 2019, the Israeli security cabinet announced the promotion of 700 housing units for Palestinians in Area C. However, by end June 2020, only one building permit, allowing for the construction of six housing units, has been issued, according to official information obtained by the Israeli organization ‘Peace Now’.

By contrast, between July 2019 and March 2020, the Israeli authorities issued a total of 1,094 building permits in illegal Israeli settlements in Area C, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

10 of the structures demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities in June 2020 had been provided as humanitarian assistance at a value of over 27,000 euros. Another 4 donor-funded aid structures were destroyed or damaged by Israeli settlers in Lifjim, a small herding community in Nablus.

The Hebron Governorate, which is the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, was also the most affected by demolitions, accounting for over 40 per cent of the targeted structures in Area C (33).

Over half of these structures were located in Massafer Yatta, an area declared a closed ‘firing zone’ for military training, where some 1,200 Palestinians are at risk of forcible transfer. The largest incident in this area took place on 3 June in the community of Mirkez, where 14 residential and livelihood structures, including four donor-funded, were targeted, displacing 36 people, including 23 children.

In Maghayer al Abeed, within the same ‘firing zone’, the Israeli authorities seized a donor-funded tent that had been provided as a quarantine site for the community and recently used by a family with COVID-19.

Also affected this month were 4 Palestinian Bedouin communities in Area C of the Jerusalem Governorate, located within or next to an area slated for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement (the E1 plan), where 17 structures, including two donor-funded, were demolished or seized.

In another community in the same area, Jabal al Baba, Israeli authorities carried out a land survey and handed over demolition orders. Two of the structures targeted this month, including one donor-funded structure, were demolished based on Military Order 1797, which allows for the expedited removal of unlicensed structures deemed as “new”, down from eight in May.

Since coming into effect in July 2019, at least 12 donor-funded structures, have been demolished based on this order.

In East Jerusalem, over half of the structures targeted this month were self-demolished by their owners, following the receipt of demolition orders, to avoid demolition fees and reduce damage to adjacent structures and personal belongings.

This follows a trend observed since the start of 2020. Six of the structures demolished in East Jerusalem were in the Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, the most affected area over the past three years.

One of these structures, home to 11 people, including seven children, was located on the route of a major road (the so called ‘Eastern Ring Road’), currently under construction; the road cuts through the neighborhood and will connect Israeli settlements in the southern West Bank to Jerusalem.

See the full report here.