Israeli forces demolish 2 homes in Bethlehem

06:00 Mar 28 2016 Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Monday morning demolished a number of buildings belonging to Palestinians, including two houses, in the southern occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, their owner told Ma'an.

Khader al-Jirashi said Israeli forces demolished two homes, a large metal barn, and a multi-purpose playground he owns near the Israeli separation wall and military checkpoint known as "Checkpoint 300" in northern Bethlehem.

The two homes, he said, measured 350 square meters and 200 square meters, while the barn measured around 400 square meters.

Al-Jirashi added that after carrying out the demolition, the Israeli bulldozers and excavators, which were escorted by Israeli military vehicles, proceeded to level a tract of land measuring more than four acres.

He said the demolition was carried out without prior notice, and he only realized it was underway when a neighbor called to let him know.

It was not initially clear whether the properties were in Area B or C, although al-Jirashi insisted the structures were built legally after obtaining the necessary permits from the Palestinian Authority, and that he has official ownership documents.

"This land has always been part of Bethlehem," al-Jirashi said in a video showing the demolition.

While demolitions are frequent in Area C -- the 62 percent of the occupied West Bank that comes under full Israeli military and civil control -- demolitions in Area A and B are less common, and are not permitted under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli authority in the Palestinian Territory, said the demolitions did not fall under their jurisdiction, as the properties lay in the Jerusalem municipality.

As of mid-February, the number of Palestinians displaced due to Israeli demolitions in 2016 was already equivalent to over half of the total number displaced in all of 2015, a senior UN official said last month.
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