23:58 GMT20 April 2021
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    A recent report from the United Nation’s Office for Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed Israel's plans to demolish up to 17,000 homes in the occupied West Bank. OCHA’s head of Research and Analysis, Yehezkel Lein, spoke with Sputnik about the move's impact, and the vicious cycle building permits have on the Palestinian community.

    The structures set for demolition are located in Area C of the West Bank, where the Israeli government retains full security and administrative control. Around 300,000 Palestinians live in the area, which comprises 60% of the West Bank. According to the OCHA report, most of the structures that will be demolished are houses, therefore placing Palestinian families at a serious risk of forcible displacement.

    Israel’s Civil Administration, the governing body operating in the West Bank, has issued 14,000 demolition orders for structures built by Palestinians without permits. The reason for this, according Lein, is the low percentage of Palestinian applications for building permits that are approved by the administration.

    "It is almost nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain these building permits," Lein told Sputnik. "Only less than one percent of Area C that is under direct Israeli control has an approved outline plan that would allow Palestinians to apply for building permits."

    Lein further explained that Palestinians have difficulty obtaining building permits even in non-contested parts of Area C.

    "Even though Palestinians might have ownership over the land, and that might not be disputed by Israeli authorities, their application for building permit would be rejected on the ground that the land is not zoned for construction and for development," he said.

    For instance, he added, the majority of the land in Area C has already "been allocated either for Israeli settlement, or use of the Israeli military for training purposes."

    "That’s why so many Palestinians are forced to build without the required permits in order to meet their basic housing and livelihood needs, and at the same time, putting themselves at risk of having their investment being destroyed."

    Demolition of this unpermitted property further only exacerbate the situation, Lein added, because in many cases, Palestinians are left with no choice but to rebuild in the same community.

    "In many cases, the people are rebuilding…they rebuild some kind of structure in the same community," he said. "In some cases, the people have no choice but to move to another place, because they know that if they rebuild in the same side, they will face demolitions again. In many cases, we have situations where the people are moving to another town, under control of the autonomy of the Palestinian Authority, or other sections of Area C that are under less risk of demolition."

    Israel’s Civil Administration has issued 14,000 demolition orders for structures built by Palestinians between 1988 and 2014. Since 2010, the administration has approved only 33 requests for building permits out of a total of 21,000 submitted by Palestinians.

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    Tags:
    Israel’s Civil Administration, United Nation’s Office for Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Yehezkel Lein, Israel, Area C, West Bank
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