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Israel bulldozes structures in West Bank villages

06:00 Oct 6 2011 Al-Farisiya and al-Milih , Jordan Valley Beit Kahel, near Hebron

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NABLUS (Ma'an) – Israeli army bulldozers on Thursday demolished structures in several West Bank villages.

In al-Farisiyah and al-Malih villages near Tubas, Israeli forces destroyed animal shelters and tent homes without any warning, village council head Aref Daragmeh told Ma'an.

In Beit Kahel, near Hebron, local youth threw stones at Israeli troops demolishing structures in the village. Soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd.

"They raided us around 6 a.m. Since the morning, occupation forces and their intelligence forces came here. They imposed curfew to prevent anyone from reaching the house and they isolated us in the house and beat up the men. Then they demolished the house. I say God will take revenge at them," said Halima al-Khatib, a family member of the demolished structure's owner.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major Guy Inbar, told Reuters that the army was demolishing a water pool that was built without permits. A demolition order was handed to the facility's owner, he added.

The Diakonia resource center for international humanitarian law says Israel's demolition of water cisterns in the West Bank has directly affected the lives of 13,602 Palestinians since 2009.

Israel's civil administration routinely destroys Palestinian structures built without Israeli permission in the 62 percent of the West Bank designated Area C under the Oslo Accords.

"Systematic and widespread administrative destruction of a range of civilian structures in area C, including homes, schools and cisterns, has been taking place since the end of 1980s," Diakonia said in its recent legal brief on West Bank demolitions.

While Israel has limited Palestinian representation in the planning process, settlers' representation and participation has been guaranteed by military orders "creating a separate but unequal planning regime for Israeli settlements," Diakonia said in the September report.

"Establishing separate but unequal planning institutions for Palestinians and settlers does not only reinforce the unlawful construction of settlements and disregard the special protected status of Palestinians, but also discriminates between settlers and Palestinians in exercising their basic rights through the planning process," the legal brief adds.

The report highlights that the destruction of any civilian object during occupation is prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention "except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations" and even then, only if the structure is used solely by militants.

When structures such as water cisterns are destroyed, civilian populations are forced to leave the area. Diakonia notes that the forced transfer of a population is absolutely prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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