Israeli Settlers Destroy 1,600 Trees in Palestine

March 21st, 2020 - by Middle East Eye

Nearly 1,600 Trees Vandalised by Israel Settlers in the West Bank Since Start of 2020

Middle East Eye

 (March 17, 2020) — Nearly 1,600 trees have been vandalised by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank since the start of 2020, according to UN OCHA.

According to the agency’s latest fortnightly report, during the period 3-16 March, Israeli settlers vandalised at least 385 Palestinian-owned trees and vehicles in the West Bank.

Three such attacks involved settlers cutting down or uprooting some 200 olive trees and 150 grape vines “belonging to farmers from Al Khader and Khallet Sakariya villages that are planted next to the Gush Etzion settlement area (Bethlehem), and 35 olive trees next to Bruchin settlement (Salfit)”.

Meanwhile, five additional attacks in the Nablus governorate “involved slashing the tires of 11 vehicles in Huwwara town, stoning and damaging two houses and four vehicles in ‘Einabus village, and vandalising an uninhabited house in Burin village.”

In addition, UN OCHA stated, Palestinian residents of the ‘Ein ar Rashash herding community near Ramallah reported 25 lambs “stolen by a settler residing in an adjacent settlement outpost”.

Israel uproots 300 olive trees in the Jordan Valley. (Photo” Middle East Eye)

On top of the numerous incidents of attacks on Palestinian-owned property and livestock, Israeli settlers “physically assaulted and injured three Palestinians”, including a woman, in three separate incidents in Al Auja town and the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2).

“Additional settler attacks not resulting in injuries or damage were reported in the H2 area on 10 and 11 March, during celebrations of a Jewish holiday (Purim),” the UN OCHA report added.

The UN OCHA report is issued once a fortnight, and documents human rights violations by Israeli forces and settlers, and the impact of occupation for Palestinians.

Over the reporting period, UN OCHA documented the punitive demolition of two homes, as well as the demolition or seizing of an additional 14 Palestinian-owned structures on the grounds of a lack of building permits, displacing 29 people and affecting around 60 others.

Israeli occupation forces also “bulldozed a section of a dirt road connecting five herding communities in southern Hebron to their main service centre”, meaning that “residents must use a long detour to access their main service centre and market in Yatta town”.

US Congress Call for Stopping Support for Israel Demolitions of Palestinian Homes

Middle East Eye

(March 18, 2020) — A letter signed by 64 American members of Congress addressing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the American administration to oppose Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, news agencies reported yesterday.

The members of Congress said in the letter, which was dated 16 March, that they were concerned about the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“We write with concerns over the ongoing home demolitions and forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including the recent demolitions in Wadi al-Hummus and other communities in East Jerusalem,” the members of congress wrote.

“We urge you to press the Israeli government to prevent more families from being forcibly transferred and having their homes destroyed,” they added.

 “The Israeli government recently accelerated the rate of home demolitions. In the West Bank, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recorded a 45% increase in the demolitions of homes and other civilian structures in 2019 compared to 2018,” they continued.

They reiterated that the US “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of US-origin equipment in this destructive practice.”

They asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a response to their letter by 30 April 2020 and “urge you to take immediate action to press the Israeli government to prevent more home demolitions, and request that you provide Congress with the information necessary for proper oversight of the use of US-defence articles and other items purchased with foreign military financing for use in the West Bank.”

According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, the letter was endorsed by J Street, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and Win Without War.

Israel’s Demolition of Palestinian Homes Is a War Crime According to ICC

Middle East Eye

(December 30, 2019) — The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced on Sunday that the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes constitutes a war crime based on the International Criminal Court (ICC), Safa Press agency reported on Sunday.

In a statement, the PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriatesreiterated that Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes contradicts the Israeli responsibility for the lives and safety of Palestinians.

The statement revealed that the occupying power, as stipulated by international law, is responsible for the safety and lives of the occupied people. The statement stressed that Israel is aware of its obligation under the international law.

Referring to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UN OCHA) report, the statement disclosed that the Israeli occupation demolished or confiscated 617 Palestinian structures, mainly homes, in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem during 2019, resulting in the displacement of 898 Palestinians.

The UN OCHA revealed that the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes increased in 2019 by 35 percent, when compared with 2018.

According to the statement, the Israeli occupation always raise the pretext of building without licenses when it demolishes Palestinian homes.

However, the statement added, the Israeli occupation has demolished licensed homes tens of times, citing the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Al-Hummus, where all the demolished homes had building licenses.

The PA noted in the statement that even the lack of licenses resulted in the strict, “illogical” and “implacable” Israeli conditions imposed on the Palestinians wanting to build or expand their homes.

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