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Israeli forces demolish homes in Jericho

06:00 Nov 15 2011 Ein al-Duyuk al-Tahta area, west of Jericho

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JERICHO (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished four homes west of Jericho in the central West Bank.

Palestinian security officials said over 30 army vehicles and 100 soldiers deployed in the Ein al-Duyuk al-Tahta area early Tuesday morning and declared a closed military zone, before bulldozers started demolishing homes.

Families did not have a chance to remove their furniture and belongings, security officials added.

Majed al-Atawneh said Israeli civil administration officers ordered him to leave his home but he refused and sat on the roof with his family. He told Ma'an he preferred that the army demolished his home "over his head" than to become homeless.

Israeli forces demolished homes belonging to Musbah Ali Mutur, Amar al-Fakhory, Mohammad Ali al-Haaj and Ali al-Dallam.

Two of the families were forced to evacuate their homes and the other two were not at home. One of the homeowners is in Saudi Arabia after performing the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, a Ma'an reporter said.

A spokesman for Israeli authorities in the West Bank told Reuters the homes were razed because they were built without proper permits.

Palestinian security officials told Ma'an that 30 homes in the area were under threat of demolition because they lacked Israeli permits.

The homes are in Area C, a zone encompassing 62 percent of the West Bank which is under full Israeli military and civil control.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA notes that under Israel's zoning policy, Palestinians can only build in 1 percent of Area C, on land which is already heavily built up. Meanwhile, more than 94 percent of Palestinian permit applications have been rejected in recent years.

"Sadly, the number of people affected by demolition continues to grow. The UN estimates that between 28 and 46 per cent of Palestinian homes could be at risk of demolition, leaving people living under a cloud of anxiety," UNRWA says.

After the demolitions on Tuesday, Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades to stop residents from returning to the rubble, witnesses said.
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