Demolitions and Displacement in the West Bank: An Overview | March 2021 – Occupied Palestinian Territory
The targeting of donor-funded aid more than doubled in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the monthly average in 2020.
The Jordan Valley community is at risk of mass demolition after 29 aid structures received demolition orders.
The reactivation of demolition orders in the Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan (East Jerusalem) increases the risk of mass displacement.
In March, Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 58 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This resulted in the displacement of 81 people, including 42 children, and also affected the livelihoods or access to services of nearly 200 other people. All of the structures were located in Area C or East Jerusalem and were targeted due to a lack of building permits, which are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
Sixteen of the structures, all located in communities in Zone C, had been provided as humanitarian aid for a total value of over 20,000 euros. Another 29 donor-funded structures, worth nearly 86,000 euros, received demolition orders in Hammamat al Maleh – Al Meiteh, a Bedouin and pastoralist community in the northern Jordan Valley, which is now facing the risk of mass demolition.
In the first quarter of 2021, Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish or seized at least 292 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 450 people, including 246 children. This represents a 121% increase in the targeting of structures and a 126% increase in displaced persons, compared to the same period in 2020 (132 and 201 respectively). In addition, the monthly average of the structures targeted so far in 2021 (97) is an increase of 37% compared to the monthly average for the whole of 2020 (71).
Forty-two of the structures targeted in March were located in Area C, 24 (or 57%) in areas designated by the Israeli authorities as closed military areas for training or “shooting zones”. More than half of the targeted structures (23) were located in Bedouin and pastoralist communities, including ten structures provided as humanitarian aid. These communities are among the most vulnerable in the West Bank, with limited access to education and health services, as well as water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure.
The practice of seizing unauthorized structures in Area C has grown steadily in recent years, both in absolute terms and in proportion to the structures targeted globally.
In March, 28 structures (67% of all targeted structures) in Zone C were seized without prior warning. So far, in 2021, 64% of the targeted structures have been seized, more than double compared to 2020 (30%). The seizure procedures do not require the authorities to give notice, which prevents those concerned from formally objecting in advance. The data entry procedures were characterized by the head of the ICA Supervision Unit as “a strategic tool”.
Sixteen structures were demolished in East Jerusalem: nine were demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality and seven by the owners themselves, following the issuance of a demolition order. In one of these incidents, on March 24, the Jerusalem Municipality, along with Israeli forces, demolished a house in Jabal Al Mukabbir, displacing two households comprising seven people, including three children, one of whom was a baby. five days. Households were paying fines as a penalty for not having a building permit issued by Israel since June 2019, around 900 NIS per month (around 230 euros).
Since the start of 2021, nearly 50% of all demolitions in East Jerusalem have been carried out by the owners themselves, following the issuance of a demolition order by the Jerusalem Municipality.
At the end of February, the Jerusalem municipality asked the local court to reactivate the demolition orders against some 70 Palestinian houses in the Al Bustan area, in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, which would result in the displacement of 1 500 Palestinians. The Municipality has long-standing plans to build a tourist and archaeological park on the site, but following public pressure, the demolition orders had been frozen since 2010 to allow a negotiated solution between the Municipality and the residents. The latter submitted alternative plans to allow them to stay in the neighborhood, all of which were rejected by the district planning committee, the last in December 2020. In mid-March, residents submitted a response to the district. the municipality’s request to the court, asking to freeze the demolition orders for another 12 months, in order to continue negotiations.