Thursday

27th Feb 2020

Israeli bulldozers demolish EU-funded buildings

  • Bulldozers in Jinba on Tuesday: Ten more Bedouin villages face similar fate (Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah)

Israeli bulldozers have demolished more than 20 Palestinian buildings in the West Bank, including EU-funded structures, amid mounting European frustration on the peace process.

B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO, said the bulldozers arrived early on Tuesday (2 February) in the villages of Jinba and Halawa, making some 110 people, including 60 children, homeless in one of the coldest months of the year.

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Israeli media report that children were seen digging in rubble for their toys after the operation.

Ten of the structures had been funded by the European Commission. Others were co-funded by Denmark and the UK as part of UN programmes.

The villages date back to the 19th century. But Israel designated the area as a military firing range in the 1970s and said the villagers must go, prompting a long legal battle.

EU 'expects protection'

Cogat, the Israeli authority which controls most of the occupied land, said "measures were taken in accordance with the law”.

Ten more villages, home to about 1,000 people, also face demolition pending a temporary court injunction.

Breaking The Silence, another Israeli NGO, said Tuesday’s operation was the largest of its kind in a decade.

It believes the measures are designed to force Palestinian Bedouin to move to Yatta, a nearby town, so that Israeli settlers can carve off a chunk of land adjacent to the old 1967 border.

More than half a million Jewish settlers have moved to the West Bank over the past 50 years, a number now growing by 16,000 a year.

The demolitions and settlement expansions put in doubt the viability of a future Palestinian state, the EU and US say.

“The EU expects its investments in support of the Palestinian people to be protected from damage and destruction,” an EU spokesman told the French press agency AFP on Tuesday.

EU states last month threatened “action” against settlers, following the publication last year of a code on labelling settler-made food, wine, and cosmetics in European shops.

French deadline

France last week went further.

Laurent Fabius, its foreign minister, told a meeting of French diplomats on Friday he aimed to convene a high-level conference to try to restart Arab-Israeli peace talks.

He indicated that if it fails, he'll set a deadline after which France will formally recognise Palestinian statehood.

“Unfortunately, Israeli settlement construction continues. We must not let the two-state solution unravel. It is our responsibility as a permanent member of the UN security council,” he said.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the initiative.

But Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “an incentive for the Palestinians to … not make any compromises".

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