United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)
Demolition and Displacement: January 2021
In January, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 81 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. This resulted in the displacement of 69 people, including 32 children, and otherwise affected the livelihoods, or access to services, of over 700 others. All the structures were located in Area C or East Jerusalem and were targeted due to a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. January’s total represents a 14 % increase, compared with the monthly average in 2020.
Fifteen (15) of the structures, all located in seven Area C communities, had been provided as humanitarian aid, for a total value of over 22,500 euros. Another 33 donor-funded structures, at a value of nearly 90,000 euros, were handed demolition or stop-work orders, the highest number of donor-funded structures placed at risk in a single month in recent years. Additionally, in Biddya (Salfit) and Ash Shuyukh (Hebron), Israeli settlers destroyed or damaged some 400 donor-funded trees and various infrastructure materials, for a value of over 11,000 euros.
Of all the structures targeted by the Israeli authorities in Area C in January, over 30 % were located in Bedouin and herder communities. In Beit Iksa Bedouin community, the Israeli authorities seized nine Palestinian-owned structures, including six homes, and demolished one latrine, leaving 27 people, including 14 children, displaced. Four of these had been provided as humanitarian assistance, in response to a previous demolition in October 2020.
On 27 January, ten structures (residential and agricultural) were seized by the Israeli authorities in Hammamat Al Maleh, a Bedouin and herder community which is spread over three separate locations (Al Maleh, Al Burj and Al Meiteh), displacing three adults and four children, and affecting the livelihoods of another 46 people. Two days prior, on 25 January, the Israeli authorities handed out demolition orders to the community, affecting around 18 structures.
Also in Fasayil village (Jericho) the Israeli authorities seized ten structures, including six donor-funded homes and animal shelters, displacing two refugee households, comprising 13 people, including five children. According to the affected people in Beit Iksa Bedouin community, Hammamat Al Maleh and Fasayil village, the Israeli authorities had provided no prior notice, neither written nor verbal, about their intention to seize the structures.
Nearly 60 % of all targeted structures in Area C in January were seized without prior warning, a trend that has been on the rise in recent years. In 2020, 30 % of all structures targeted in Area C were seized without prior warning, up from 11 % in 2017 and 8 % in 2016.
Also in Area C, in Umm Qussa community (Hebron), the Israeli authorities demolished an under-construction mosque intended to serve community members who previously had to travel to the nearest village for prayers. During the demolition incident, the Israeli authorities damaged parts of a donor-funded water network, disrupting the water distribution to about half of the village residents. The demolition took place on the basis of Military Order 1797, which provides only a 96-hour notice and very limited grounds for legally challenging a demolition. Since coming into effect in July 2019, 110 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished based on this order, 11 % of all the structures targeted in Area C since July 2019.
On 31 December, the Israeli authorities indicated that they will fund settlement regional councils’ efforts to monitor unlicensed Palestinian construction in Area C, possibly by using patrols, drones and other means, as an addition to existing mechanisms. The Israeli Settlement Affairs Ministry has reportedly allocated about ILS 20 million (USD $6 million) for such endeavours.
Two structures were also demolished in occupied East Jerusalem: one uninhabited residential structure was demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality, and one inhabited home by the owner, following the issuance of a demolition order. The latter demolition took place in Beit Hanina, leaving two households displaced, including one female-headed household, comprised of four adults and three children.