Israel demolishes EU-funded West Bank housing shelters
Published Saturday 12/04/2014 (updated) 14/04/2014 10:23
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has demolished several European Union-funded humanitarian housing shelters in a highly sensitive strip of West Bank land near Jerusalem, an EU official said Friday.
"On April 9, three of some 18 residential structures were demolished ... in Jabal al-Baba," an area outside the sprawling settlement of Maale Adumim, a spokesman for the EU's delegation to the Palestinian territories told AFP.
The tin huts, used to house Palestinians made homeless by severe winter weather at the beginning of the year, were "partially funded by EU member states," the official said.
Israel issued demolition orders on all 18 structures in February, the official said, and EU delegates "raised this with the Israeli authorities" both at that time of and after the demolitions.
The EU official said that there were ongoing discussions with Israeli authorities over the demolitions, but a report by EurActiv, a Brussels-based news service, said diplomats were demanding financial compensation.
"We should ask for compensation from Israel whenever EU-funded humanitarian aid projects are destroyed," EurActiv quoted an anonymous diplomat as saying.
Israel's military administration of the occupied Palestinian territories could not immediately comment on the demolitions.
The structures were located in E1, a highly contentious area in the West Bank east of Jerusalem.
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, an advocacy officer of the Jahalin Association representing Palestinian Bedouin, condemned the demolitions, calling E1 "Obama's red line" for Israeli settlement construction.
Godfrey-Goldstein told Ma'an Wednesday that the demolitions were "presumably revenge" for the PLO's decision to apply for applying for accession to 15 international treaties in late March.
Demolitions in E1
But demolitions in the area are not a new phenomenon. Popular committee spokesman Hani Halabiya told Ma'an Wednesday that Israeli bulldozers had demolished seven structures in Jabal al-Baba the week before. Four structures were used as dwellings and three were cattle farms.
Israel is trying to displace the community of Jabal al-Baba to expand the nearby settlement of Maale Adumim, Halabiya told Ma'an.
Additionally, on March 12, Israeli bulldozers demolished a residential building, a car wash, and a shop in Jabal al-Baba.
Israel has been planning construction in E1 since the early 1990s but nothing has ever been built there due to heavy international pressure. Plans for building 1,200 units unveiled in December 2012 were quickly put on the back burner after the announcement triggered a major diplomatic backlash.
The PLO says construction in E1 would effectively cut the West Bank in two and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report.