EU criticizes Israel over planned auction of seized West Bank aid

EU criticizes Israel over planned auction of seized West Bank aid

European body makes formal request for the return of assets but has not received response from Israeli authorities; sale to include two school structures

The West Bank Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, Sunday, October 21, 2018. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Illustrative: The West Bank Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, October 21, 2018. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

The European Union on Friday criticized Israel over apparent plans to sell aid given to Bedouin villages in the West Bank which was seized by Israeli authorities.

The tents and other humanitarian structures will be put up for auction within days by COGAT, the Defense Ministry unit which oversees civilian activities in the Palestinian territories, according to the EU’s spokesman in Jerusalem.

The supplies include “two school structures that had been consigned to Ibziq community; and two tents and three metal sheds to the al-Hadidiya community,” Shadi Othman said in a statement.

The aid was seized in October and November by Israeli authorities and is worth 15,320 euros ($17,100), according to Othman.

COGAT did not immediately respond to confirm a May 6 advertisement in the Maariv newspaper which detailed the sale of “seized property” from the West Bank.

A teacher leads a class of Palestinian bedouin children from the Abu Anwar community near Maale Adumim (background), in the West Bank city of al-Azariya in East Jerusalem,on February 23, 2016. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)

“In the case where the owners of these seized assets have not proceeded to request the return of their property within 30 days of the publication of this notice, the assets will be sold,” it said.

The EU made an official request for the return of the structures but received no response, Othman said.

“EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah had called on Israeli authorities to return the confiscated items to their intended beneficiaries without precondition as soon as possible” or provide compensation, the spokesman added.

The EU often finances humanitarian structures in Bedouin villages, which are frequently confiscated by Israeli authorities who claim the necessary authorization has not been given.

It is extremely difficult for Bedouin communities to obtain building permits in the West Bank.

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