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26 Dec, 2013 04:21

UN condemns Christmas Eve demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel

UN condemns Christmas Eve demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees has condemned Israel's demolition of Palestinian Bedouin dwellings in the West Bank, calling for an immediate halt.

"UNRWA condemns the latest demolitions in the West Bank, which displaced 68 people, the most recent of which occurred on Christmas Eve," spokesman Chris Gunness said in a statement.

“The demolitions took place in Ein Ayoub near Ramallah and Fasayil al-Wusta near Jericho in the Jordan valley with 61 persons displaced in Ein Ayoub, and seven persons, all refugees, displaced in Fasayil al-Wusta," Gunness said. He added that 32 of those displaced were children, "including a five year old girl who is paralyzed from the waist down."

“In addition, some 750 head of sheep and goats are without shelter at this crucial lambing season,” he said.

Gunness stated that at least 663 Palestinian buildings - including 259 homes - have been demolished, and 1,103 Palestinians have been displaced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year.

The spokesman urged Israel to obey international laws and halt demolitions.

A Bedouin refugee child standing on the site of his demolished home. Image from UNRWA

Israel maintains that it only dismantles buildings that were put up without permission. But Palestinians say they are almost never granted permits.

The UN has continuously spoken out against demolitions in the West Bank. Earlier in December, the United Nations decried Israel’s decision to destroy over two dozen Palestinian properties in the West Bank, issuing a statement accusing Israel of pushing the same Palestinian families out of their homes in less than two weeks.

Moreover, dozens of NGOs have asked Israel not to continue the demolitions. Palestinian leaders maintain that resettlement efforts must cease if there is ever to be any chance of peace with Israel.

“Demolitions often occur to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, with 60 percent of demolitions occurring in Palestinian communities close to settlement zones,” Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, and other rights groups declared in a joint statement earlier in December.