Israeli authorities seized a mobile home near Jericho in the West Bank on April 23, leaving a family of seven homeless. The move violates Israel’s commitment made in early April to stop confiscating or demolishing structures deemed illegal until the end of the coronavirus crisis.
The Kaabna family lives in Ein a-Duyuk a-Tahta, an area also known as the Hasmonean Palaces archeological site on the western outskirts of Jericho.
The West Bank Protection Consortium, which donated the mobile home, said this is the first building in which Palestinians live that has been confiscated or demolished by the Israeli military’s Civil Administration in the West Bank since the announcement made earlier this month.
Yusuf, the father of the family, told Haaretz that this is not the first time his family’s home has been confiscated. In December, the Civil Administration seized another mobile home where they lived. They had then moved to a nearby house where his brother lives.
In recent years, Israel has actively enforced rules against constructions it deems illegal in areas classified as archeological sites in the West Bank, including the Hasmonean Palaces site, which was developed in 2016 by Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin. Elkin, who lives in a settlement in the West Bank, also holds the environmental protection portfolio.
The commitment not to touch inhabited dwellings during the coronavirus outbreak does not include new construction that “took advantage of the crisis,” the Civil Administration said, adding that it also did not rule out “taking enforcement actions required for reasons of security, safety or to preserve the security of the region.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, since March 5 – when the Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency because of the spread of the coronavirus – 19 incidents of confiscation or demolition of Palestinian structures have occurred, including residential, agricultural and empty structures. On April 22, Israeli authorities also demolished two inhabited buildings in the Kumi Ori outpost near the restive Israeli settlement of Yitzhar.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit said: “On Thursday, the supervisory unit of the Civil Administration conducted an action to confiscate a mobile home and shed which were placed illegally in the Hasmonean Palaces archeological site in the Jericho area in Area C, without the required permits and approvals. We would like to emphasize that the enforcement was conducted according to authorizations and regulations.”