Friday, April 8, 2016

Israeli West Bank demolitions raise alarm

In the past three months, the Israeli military has more than tripled its demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank, United Nations' figures show.
The increase is raising alarm among diplomats and human rights groups over what they regard as a sustained violation of international law.
Figures collated by the UN's office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA), which operates in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, show that from an average of 50 demolitions a month in 2012-2015, the average has risen to 165 a month since January, with 235 demolitions in February alone.
"It is a very marked and worrying increase," said Catherine Cook, an OCHA official based in Jerusalem who closely monitors the demolitions, describing the situation as the worst since the UN body started collecting figures in 2009.
"The hardest hit are Bedouin and Palestinian farming communities who are at risk of forcible transfer, which is a clear violation of international law."
From the point of view of B'Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, that admission would appear to confirm that Israel's policy discriminates against Palestinians.
"To demolish the homes of Palestinians who are protected under the Geneva Conventions and to build (Israeli) settlements is a clear violation of international humanitarian law," said Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for B'Tselem.

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