More than 1,200 Palestinians became homeless in 2016 as a result of continued Israeli demolitions of homes in villages and towns in the occupied West Bank in Palestine, the European Union said Thursday.
In a statement sent to reporters Thursday, the EU said its diplomats “deplore the demolitions of Palestinian structures undertaken by Israel in the occupied West Bank.”
It said that Israel has carried out at least 866 demolitions so far this year, affecting more than 5,700 Palestinians while turning 1,221 of them homeless. The bloc said at least US$563,000 worth of structures built for Palestinians by the EU were destroyed by Israel during the same year alone.
Most of these demolitions have been carried out by Israel in Area C in the West bank, which is more than 60 percent of the West Bank and falls under full control of the Israeli government through COGAT, the Israeli defense body dealing with Palestinian civil affairs.
Israel claims that these constructions were built without permits, but for years thousands of Palestinians have been denied their right to build homes in their own villages and towns in Area C by COGAT.
The same area is where most illegal Israeli settlements are and where almost half a million Jewish settlers live in violation of international law. The unspoken policy of denying permits for Palestinians and destroying their homes is part of the right-wing takeover of Israeli politics over the past two decades.
Many in the current government are far-right politicians who oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and are in favor of building more Jewish settlements, as they view the West Bank as Jewish land and part of Israel's larger historic project of expansion.
The EU statement further called on Israel “to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion.”
The EU recently approved a law which labels all products made in Jewish settlements as illegal. Despite international law being on the EU's side, Tel Aviv branded the decision anti-Semitic.
Earlier this year, a report by Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said Israel had destroyed US$73 million worth of the bloc’s funded projects in Palestine over 14 years.