While the news are full of the plans to annex the West bank and legalize construction in settlements – Israel is busy creating facts on the ground, as usual. Annexation or not, Israel has been demolishing homes in the West Bank and trying to drive Palestinians out of their homes for decades. These attempts to take over the coveted land are carried out in utter indifference to the severe damage to Palestinians’ property, livelihood, water and power supply infrastructure they set up themselves, and their ability to plan their lives.
Some of these Palestinians are elderly, some are parents, and most of them own land. The one thing they do not have, which Israel makes sure they never will, is building permits. As they cannot build legally, these residents are forced to live in uncertainty, under constant threat that their homes will be demolished, their water and power supplies cut off, and their livelihoods taken away. Build another room to alleviate crowding in your home? The Civil Administration will swiftly tear it down. Lay a pipe to carry water from a spring to a field? The Civil Administration will soon slash it. Add a classroom to the community school? It will be destroyed. Install a toilet donated to the community to improve hygiene? It will be confiscated. Build a tabun oven to bake bread? Forbidden. Put in a solar panel to generate a bit of electricity? Not allowed.
From the beginning of the year through May 2020, Israel demolished 30 houses and apartments throughout the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). As a result, 130 people have lost their homes, including 68 minors. Another 112 non-residential structures (mostly cisterns and storage structures) were demolished. In East Jerusalem, 31 housing units were demolished, 26 of which were torn down by their owners after they received a demolition order. In total, 112 people, including 53 minors, lost their homes.
27 February 2020 – Khirbet a-Saffai al-Foqa, Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills. Here, a livestock pen once stood. The residents of Masafer Yatta are well acquainted with these sights and sounds, as well as the silence that comes after the demolition. The demolitions are backed by all the Israeli authorities, including, in some cases, the Israeli High Court of Justice – even though the residents have nowhere to go or any legal way to build a home.