Israeli bulldozers demolish homes in Hebron-area refugee camp
Published Wednesday 30/04/2014 (updated) 18/05/2014 10:30
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers early Wednesday demolished two houses in a refugee camp in the southern West Bank, a local popular committee spokesman said.
Ahmad Abu al-Khayzaran told Ma'an that bulldozers under Israeli army protection entered al-Arrub refugee camp near Hebron and demolished two houses belonging to Hilmi Abu Ghazi and Hasan Abu Ghazi.
Clashes broke out between Israeli troops and local youths at the scene, who threw stones as soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Several residents of al-Arrub suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation, Abu al-Khayzaran said.
Locals told Ma'an that three Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets.
An Israeli army spokesman told Ma'an that there was Israeli "Civil Administration activity" in the area. Soldiers were stationed at the scene, he said.
The spokesman said that 200 Palestinians gathered in the area, and that about 50 of them hurled stones at soldiers and Civil Administration officials.
Soldiers "fired a rubber pellet at a main instigator," who was hit and taken to a hospital by the Red Crescent.
A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories confirmed the demolitions.
"Today Security Forces carried out the demolition of 2 construction sites that were built illegally in Al-Arrub," a COGAT spokesperson told Ma'an via email.
"The sites were demolished after the residents' requests for construction permits were refused due to non-compliance with the required regulations of the buildings."
"The Civil Administration will continue to enforce the law in Judea and Samaria towards all of its population while applying utmost sensitivity towards the residents," the spokesperson said, using the Israeli term for the West Bank.
Asked about COGAT's policy regarding home demolitions in refugee camps, spokeswoman Sapir Mizrahi told Ma'an: "We don't have a separate policy for refugee camps."
"The Civil administration works to preserve law and order and to enforce illegal construction in C Areas," Mizrahi said, referring to the more than 60 percent of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control.
Israeli forces demolished three houses in al-Arrub in April 2013. Locals told Ma'an at the time that they feared Israeli bulldozers would return to destroy more homes.
Al-Arrub is one of 19 refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, within which live about a quarter of the 771,000 registered refugees in the territory.
More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants -- were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel's creation in 1948.
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.
Israel demolished over 500 Palestinian structures throughout the US-brokered peace negotiations, the PLO said in a statement Tuesday.
Citing figures from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the PLO said Israel demolished a total of 508 Palestinian structures, 312 of which were homes, from July 30, 2013 to April 29, 2014.
"As a result, 878 persons were forcibly displaced," the statement said.