Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter

06:00 Feb 2 2016 Janba, Halawa, and al-Tabban areas of Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills)

Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter Israel destroys 23 houses in Hebron, leaving 60 children, 23 adults without shelter
A distraught Palestinian family amid the remains of their home after it was demolished by Israelis in Musafir Jenbah. Photograph: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images published by The Guardian

Scenes: published by Maan

House demolition in Khirbet Jenbah. Photo: Nasser Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem, 2 Feb. 2016

Confiscation of solar panels in Khirbet Jenbah. Photo: Nasser Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem, 2 Feb. 20166

Villagers in Khirbet Jenbah rescue furniture following house demolitions. More than 80 villagers lost their homes in a single morning. Photograph: Peter Beaumont for the Guardian

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- A number of Palestinian dwellings were demolished in the Masafer Yatta area of southern Hebron on Tuesday morning, locals told Ma'an.

Ratib al-Jubour, a spokesperson for a local popular committee, said that "large numbers of Israeli occupation soldiers deployed in Masafer Yatta before bulldozers demolished a number of houses in the Janba, Halawa and al-Tabban areas."

In Janba, Israeli forces demolished a two-room house belonging to Palestinian resident Ahmad Issa Abu Iram, Jubour told Ma'an, adding that forces also confiscated solar panels which the family had been using for energy.

Two other homes, owned by Issa Younis Abu Iram and his brother Jamil, were also destroyed in the area. The structures demolished were reportedly built by a European organization after the families were left homeless during last year’s winter storms, al-Jubour said.
Jubour said that an unspecified number of homes were also destroyed in the Halawa and al-Tabban areas. Most were made of corrugated iron or were tents.

A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories was not immediately available for comment.

The demolitions came one day after Israeli soldiers entered the area on Monday, took photos of the structures, and notified the families their homes were slated for demolition, al-Jubour told Ma'an.

Israeli watchdog B'Tselem estimated around 40 structures in Janba and Halawa had been marked by Israel's civil administration, adding that demolitions carried out Tuesday in Janba followed the "termination of the arbitration process between the residents and the state."

The Masafer Yatta area, also known as the South Hebron Hills, lies almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Masafter Yatta live in an area declared a military zone by Israel in the 1970's, known as the "918 Firing Zone." Residents were expelled at the time and eventually allowed back following a long court battle, but are under the constant threat of being expelled.

Meanwhile, the presence of around 3,000 Israeli settlers illegally living in the area has meant that local Palestinians have been heavily restricted from building homes and infrastructure over the past decade, according to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.

Four Israeli government-sanctioned settlements and at least six unauthorized outposts built in Masafer Yatta since 1981 are connected to an Israeli supplied electricity network, but the majority of Palestinian villages have been refused access to the power lines crisscrossing their land.

The army meanwhile has prevented at least three attempts to connect to the Palestinian Authority supply.

While demolitions in the occupied West Bank decreased by 10 percent in 2015 from the previous year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 539 Palestinian-owned structures were still demolished, leaving many Palestinians homeless.

The majority were demolished in Area C, on the grounds of lack of building permits, around 20 percent of which were built using humanitarian assistance from international organizations.

"Together with the severe restrictions on access to grazing land, a coercive environment has been created persuading residents to leave," OCHA said.


by B'Tselem

This morning, 2 February 2016, Civil Administration and military forces came to the Palestinian communities of Khirbet Jenbah and Khirbet al-Halawah in the South Hebron Hills, which lie in an area declared by the military as Firing Zone 918. In Khirbet Jenbah, the forces demolished fifteen structures that were home to sixty people, including 32 minors. In Khirbet al-Halawah, they demolished seven structures that were home to fifty people, including 32 minors. The forces also confiscated three solar panels in Khirbet Jenbah and two solar panels in Khirbet al-Halawah, all of which were donated to the communities by a humanitarian aid organization.

This comes upon an announcement yesterday (1 Feb.) regarding failure of the mediation process between the Israeli authorities and the communities, which began at the end of 2013. Immediately after the announcement, Civil Administration representatives came to Palestinian communities in Firing Zone 918 and photographed structures slated for demolition. The homes demolished this morning were constructed over the last two years, while the mediation process was still under way. At midday today, Israel’s High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction ordering the authorities not to demolish some of the structures until a hearing on the matter, following an urgent petition filed by the Society of St. Yves. As the mediation process ended without an agreement, the communities are set to renew their legal struggle against the authorities’ attempts to expel them from their land after declaring it a firing zone.

by Amira Hass for Haaretz

Latest development in multiyear battle leaves 60 children, 18 adults without dwellings.

The Civil Administration in the West Bank on Tuesday demolished 23 homes and three outhouses in the southern Hebron hills villages of Jinba and Halawa. According to Israeli activists who reached Jinba by midday, shortly after the demolitions, 78 people had been living in the newly-built homes, including 60 children.

These are two of the 12 villages in the area that have been waging a legal battle for 17 years in an attempt to prevent their evacuation and demolition so they can be used as army training areas. The European Union has been closely following the villagers’ campaign, and has repeatedly stated it would view their evacuation as a coerced uprooting of a protected population, a contravention of international law.

On Monday morning, the State Prosecution and lawyers for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), as well as the villagers’ attorney Shlomo Lecker, announced that a bridging process started in October 2013 had failed. To the shocked surprise of residents and lawyers, within hours of informing the High Court of Justice of this development, Civil Administration officials arrived in these two villages and marked 40 dwellings for demolition. Less than 24 hours later they returned, accompanied by the army, and started destroying these structures. They also temporarily blocked a road leading to Jinba and confiscated vehicles and five solar panels.

The bridging procedure, mediated by law professor Yitzhak Zamir, was suggested by the High Court of Justice. The two sides were sworn to secrecy during this process. However, the Society of St. Yves learned that during the procedure the army demanded that residents leave their homes for a few days each month so that military exercises could be held in the area. The residents objected, leading to the termination of the bridging process.

Prior to the process, the state’s position was that residents of eight villages must move to the village of Yatta permanently, allowing them to cultivate their land and graze their sheep in the area at times when the army was not conducting exercises there, namely on weekends and Jewish holidays. Two more periods for cultivation and grazing would also be allowed during the year. Permanent residence in the villages would not be permitted. The residents of four other smaller villages were permitted to remain in the area, according to the state’s position in 2012.

The demolition was interrupted and did not extend to all 40 structures that were slated for demolition after the Society of St. Yves – the Catholic Center for Human Rights – filed a petition to halt the demolitions with the High Court of Justice on Tuesday morning. The court issued a temporary injunction until the state’s reply is received in seven days.

All the structures demolished on Tuesday were newly constructed dwellings, built in 2014 while the bridging process was in progress. They were made of concrete bricks, with corrugated tin roofs. Israel has not developed any construction plans for these villages, which have been there since the 19th century. Thus, any construction there is deemed illegal. However, natural growth and overcrowding have compelled residents to build even without permits.

Fifteen of the demolished structures were in Jinba and the rest in Halawa. Many were built with financing provided by European and other foreign agencies. All 12 villages in the area developed naturally from settlements of cave-dwellers, who had originally inhabited the numerous caves in the area. These outlying areas of the adjacent town of Yatta started developing by the mid-19th century. In some of these villages, stone houses were already built before 1967. The residents always maintained social, family and economic ties with Yatta.

The area around these villages was already declared a closed military zone back in the late 1970s. Only permanent residents were allowed to dwell there. In August and September 1999 most of the villagers received evacuation orders, based on the claim that they were “illegally residing within a live-fire zone.” The authorities informed them that they were deemed “intruders into a fire range.”

On November 16, 1999 the army forcibly removed 700 residents, destroying houses and wells, as well as confiscating property. The residents were left without homes or any means of making a living.
Attorney Roni Pelli from ACRI expressed her regret that “the day after the end of the bridging process the army rushed to demolish so many structures, leaving dozens of children, women and men without a roof over their heads in the coldest month of the year.” A defense official told Haaretz that the structures that were demolished and the solar panels that were confiscated “were erected without permits within the firing zone.” He added that “during the bridging process conducted by the Civil Administration to settle the matter of these structures, residents were unwilling to reach a settlement, while continuing with their illegal construction. This led to enforcement of the law.”

Home demolitions 2/2/2016
Home demolitions 2/2/2016
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