Yvonne Haley, the Acting Coordinator of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said on Thursday that the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) had demolished 689 structures in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the beginning of this year 2020.
The Acting OCHA Coordinator explained that the demolitions that happened this year were the largest since 2016 and caused the displacement of 869 Palestinians.
Haley called on Israel to stop the illegal demolitions immediately after dozens of Palestinians were displaced in the latest demolitions of buildings in the Jordan Valley.
“I remind all parties that the massive destruction of property and the forcible displacement of protected persons in an occupied area constitute serious violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, Haley said in a statement.
She also noted that the vulnerability of the population is getting more complicated with the onset of winter and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As she confirmed the preparedness of the humanitarian community to support those who have been displaced or affected by the demolitions
The IOA demolished homes and buildings in Humsa Al-Buqi`a village in the Jordan Valley which caused the displacement of 73 people including 41 children, according to Haley.
“Three quarters of the village population lost their homes, making this the largest forced displacement incident in more than four years”, Haley elaborated.
OCHA stated that humanitarian agencies visited the village and recorded the destruction of 76 buildings which is more than any other single demolition that occurred in the past decade. The demolition of property included homes, animal pens, toilets, and solar panels that were essential to the livelihood and well-being of community members whose rights were violated.
“The lack of building permits issued by IOA is usually cited as the reason for the demolition although due to the restrictive and discriminatory planning system, Palestinians can rarely obtain such permits,” OCHA acting coordinator said.
She added that the demolitions are designed means to force Palestinians to leave their homes.
Haley explained, “The village of Humsa al-Baqi’a is one of 38 Bedouin villages located partially or completely within a field declared by Israel as a military firing site in the Jordan Valley. Furthermore, the village is one of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank with limited access to education, health services, water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure.”