US ‘concerned’ over Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes
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US ‘concerned’ over Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes

State Department says practice calls into question Jewish state’s commitment to two-state solution

A Palestinian woman sits next to the remains of her home after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in a disputed military zone in the area of Musafir Jenbah, south of the West Bank town of Hebron, on February 2, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
A Palestinian woman sits next to the remains of her home after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in a disputed military zone in the area of Musafir Jenbah, south of the West Bank town of Hebron, on February 2, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

The United States is “concerned” with regard to ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a spokeswoman for the US State Department said Friday, adding that such actions cast serious doubts over the Israeli government’s commitment to achieving a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict in the region.

“These actions are indicative of a damaging trend of demolitions, displacement and land confiscation,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told a State Department briefing, according to Reuters. “They also call into question the Israeli government’s commitment to that two-state solution.”

Since the beginning of 2016, Israel has demolished, on average, 29 Palestinian-owned structures per week, three times the weekly average for 2015, according to data presented earlier this year by Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

The IDF regularly destroys West Bank and East Jerusalem homes it says have been built without permission from Israeli authorities.

The wife of Raid Masalmeh, a Palestinian man who stabbed two Israelis to death at an office building and car park in Tel Aviv, walks past the debris of her family home after it was demolished near the West Bank village of Dura on February 23, 2016.(AFP / HAZEM BADER)
The wife of Raid Masalmeh, a Palestinian man who stabbed two Israelis to death at an office building and car park in Tel Aviv, walks past the debris of her family home after it was demolished near the West Bank village of Dura on February 23, 2016.(AFP / HAZEM BADER)

Palestinians and their supporters say it is extremely difficult for them to obtain permits in the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control, known as Area C, which accounts for about 60 percent of the territory.

Earlier this month, Israeli forces demolished dozens of structures, including a school, in the northern West Bank, leaving 10 families homeless, according to the UN. The demolitions took place in the village of Khirbet Tana, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. In total, 41 structures were destroyed, displacing 36 Palestinians including 11 children, the UN’s humanitarian body said in a statement.

Israeli police at the scene of a home demolition in East Jerusalem's Shuafat refugee camp on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 (Israel Police)
Israeli police at the scene of a home demolition in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 (Israel Police)

Israel also carries out home demolitions against families of Palestinian assailants, saying the measure is meant to deter potential attackers. Critics, however, maintain that such demolitions constitute a form of collective punishment, and are an ineffective means of deterrence.

Twenty-nine Israelis and four non-Israelis have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October. Almost 200 Palestinians have also been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.

Adiv Sterman and Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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