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Stand in solidarity – Israel must stop the demolition of Palestinians’ homes

The biggest Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has argued that Israel is creating “a Kafkaesque reality that leaves Palestinians almost no way to build legally”.

By the Labour & Palestine Team

This week was #PalestineLandDay where Palestinians around the world mark how much land they have lost to illegal occupation and settlements, and internationally solidarity activists take the opportunity to speak up for Palestine.

This week’s campaigning took place against a context of the United Nations recently reporting that Israeli authorities demolished 26 Palestinian-owned buildings in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem at the beginning of March.

This is a vital issue that we must speak up on internationally as part of our campaigning in support of Palestinian rights.

According to the report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA,) these demolitions between 2 and 15 March caused 42 people to be displaced, of which 24 were children.

Seventeen of these structures were located in the Israeli-controlled ‘Area C’ of the Occupied West Bank, while two were in the Nablus region – in Ein Shibli village – whereby 17 people were displaced on the grounds of the Israeli Military Order 1797, which renders lawful demolitions taking place with as little as 96 hours of notice.

The OCHA further reports that these demolitions also displaced people living in Al-Tuwani and Khallet Athaba’, in Hebron and Bethlehem.

The demolition meanwhile of a food stall near Qalqilya city affected the livelihoods of 20 people, akin to the destruction of two uninhabited houses and a metal container in the Jericho area which affected 16 people.

The UN and activists regularly report that often Israeli forces demolished Palestinians homes under the pretext of not having a building permit.

Yet the reality of the situation is that applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed, giving Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding structures as “illegal”.

These aggressive and illegal acts take place in a context where out of five of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, and applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars that people simply cannot afford.

Between 2010 and 2014, only 1.5 percent of all Palestinian building permit applications across the occupied West Bank were approved by Israel, according to the UN and the extortionate cost of a permit for a single home is said to be around $30,000.

In this context, the biggest Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has argued that Israel is creating “a Kafkaesque reality that leaves Palestinians almost no way to build legally”.

Illegal settlements and house demolitions have been going on year after year and this situation must change.

It’s time to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and build awareness internationally of why these home demolitions, and the illegal occupation, must end.

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