Up to 13,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank are currently under Israeli demolition orders, leaving residents and homes “in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat,” according to the U.N. on Monday.

A report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also highlighted the difficulty Palestinians face in obtaining building permits needed to prevent such demolition orders, with only 33 of 2,020 Palestinian planning applications approved between 2010 and 2014.

Most of the structures are on privately owned Palestinian land in Area C, part of the illegally occupied West Bank under full Israeli military and civil rule.

From The Guardian:

Between 1988 and 2014, Israel’s Civil Administration, the governing body that operates in the West Bank, issued 14,000 demolition orders, of which more than 11,000 are still outstanding and could result in the demolition of up to 17,000 structures owned by Palestinians in Area C, including houses, sheds and animal shelters, according to the report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In Area C, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israel retains control of security and land management and “views the area as there to serve its own needs.”

Nearly 4,500 of the demolition orders affected Palestinian Bedouins, who human rights groups argue are at the centre of Israeli plans to force them off their land to allow for expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

The figures for the report were taken from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and showed that in contrast to demolition orders against Palestinians, only 6,950 demolition orders had been made against illegal structures inside Jewish settlements.

The report found the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities, including the way land is allocated, “made it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in most of Area C.”

Less than 1% of Area C had been planned for Palestinian construction – even basic residential and livelihood structures, such as a tent or a fence, required a permit.

“Structures built without permits are regularly served with demolition orders. While only a minority of the orders issued are executed, these orders do not expire and leave affected households in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat.

“Where the orders have been implemented, they have resulted in displacement and disruption of livelihoods, the entrenchment of poverty and increased aid dependency,” the report found.

Of the 11,134 demolition orders, 570 were classified as ready to be carried out immediately – during the first half of 2015 the Civil Administration demolished 245 Palestinian structures in Area C.

Another 2,454 orders were on hold due to legal proceedings, while 8,110 demolition orders were classified as “in process.”

Area C covers 60% of the West Bank, which was temporarily divided into three parts – A, B and C – under the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Area C was supposed to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority by the end of 1998 but Israel has maintained military control of the area.

Read more here.

“What is happening,” explains a recent Haaretz editorial, “is not law enforcement, but just the opposite. It’s a crude violation of the principles of justice and of international law, which requires the occupying military force to respect the rights of the native occupied population to housing and a livelihood, and prohibits its forcible removal.

“The buildings were constructed without a permit,” the Israeli publication continues, “because Israel has refused and still refuses to prepare a master plan for the Palestinian communities living in what is today defined as Area C. The purpose of the ongoing demolitions is transparent: To pressure the Bedouin into agreeing to plans that would concentrate them in permanent towns, and to evict them and the rest of the Palestinians from Area C to Areas A and B, which are under the control of the Palestinian Authority.”

Editor’s note: In this revised report, the number of structures threatened with demolition has been reduced to 13,000 from 17,000. The original figure that Truthdig reported was based on an article that The Guardian subsequently updated, reducing the number by 4,000.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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