Surge in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes blasted by international bodies

(Photo: LWF)People pick through rubble at the site of a demolition in Wadi Sneysel, in the West Bank near East Jerusalem.

Demolitions of Palestinian properties are a threat to peace in the Holy Land and the government of Israel must be held accountable for them, says a group of  international aid, faith, human rights and development groups.

The 31 organizations are urging world leaders to take urgent action to halt ongoing demolitions and hold the Israel government accountable for "wanton destruction of Palestinian property."

The groups include Christian Aid, the Lutheran World Federation, Pax Christi International, Secours Islamique France and Amnesty International.

They also condemned the destruction in Israel of projects funded by international aid in the occupied West Bank.

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"During a surge in demolitions this week, the Israeli army demolished at least 63 homes and basic structures across 10 Palestinian communities in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel has maintained full military and civil control," the Aug. 21 statement said.

Such acts have long been viewed as fueling resentment and triggering Israeli-Palestinian violence.

"Demolitions are pushing Palestinians to the brink and destroying prospects for peace," said Catherine Essoyan, Oxfam's regional chair in the statement.

FORCED OFF THEIR LAND

"Instead of developing their communities and their livelihood, thousands of Palestinians in Area C are living in misery with the constant fear that tomorrow, their home could be gone and they could be forced to leave their land."

Among the demolished structures were 12 basic humanitarian necessities, including a solar panel, a portable latrine, animal pens, and tents financed by the European Union, the statement said.

Lutheran World Federation representative in Jerusalem Rev. Mark Brown said the recent surge does not contribute to promoting peace nor does it show respect for human dignity.

"The demolition of Palestinian homes and basic structures, such as animal pens and portable latrines instills fear, creates hardship, and undermines prospects for peace. The bulldozing and confiscation of homes are acts of violence," said Brown.

He said it is critical for all parties in the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict to take concrete action to protect and preserve internationally-recognized human rights.

The statement said that in the week ended Aug. 21, demolitions left 132 people homeless, including 82 children, accounting for a quarter of the displacement from demolitions in 2015.

It marked the highest number of people made homeless from demolitions in nearly three years.

"The international community must use all of its influence to prevent the ongoing destruction of Palestinian property and continued displacement from their land," said William Bell, Christian Aid's policy and advocacy officer for Israel and the Palestinians.

"To allow this to continue is to further erode the notion of peace with justice and security for all."

The organizations are:

1. ActionAid

2. Action Against Hunger

3. Amnesty International

4. Asamblea de Cooperacion por la DPaz (ACPP)

5. Broederlijk Delen

6. Christian Aid

7. Church of Sweden

8. COSPE

9. DanChurchAid

10. Diakonia

11. EAPPI UK and Ireland

12. Embrace the Middle East

13. Gruppo di Volontariato Civile

14. Heinrich Boll Foundation

15. Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

16. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP – UK)

17. Oxfam

18. Overseas

19. Open Shuhada Street South Africa

20. Norwegian Church Aid

21. Norwegian People's Aid

22. Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden

23. Pax Christi Flanders

24. Pax Christi International

25. Premiere Urgence Aide Medicale Internationale (PU-AMI)

26. Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW)

27. Secours Islamique France

28. The Lutheran World Federation

29. Trócaire

30. Vento di Terra

31. WeEffect

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