TUBAS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces destroyed residences, agricultural structures, solar panels, and water pipes in the occupied West Bank district of Tubas, in the Jordan Valley, on Sunday morning.
Bashar Bani Odeh, the head of Khirbet Atuf village council, told Ma'an that four Israeli bulldozers accompanied by 12 Israeli military jeeps raided the area of al-Ras al-Ahmar and destroyed nine structures, including structures used to care for cattle.
The main water pipeline used by residents of the area was also destroyed, as were several solar panels which generate power to the local residents.
According to Amnesty International, nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water
Just half of Palestinian proposals for wells and improvement projects to the water network were approved by Israel between 1995 and 2008, compared to a 100 percent approval rate for Israeli projects, a study cited in a report by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that 24 people, including five minors, were left homeless by the al-Ras al-Ahmar demolitions on Sunday.
Bani Odeh added that Israeli forces carried out the demolitions under the pretext that they were built in a closed military zone, and hadn’t received building permits from the Israeli Civil Administration.
A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, told Ma'an that “enforcement measures” were carried out against “nine residential tents, seven iron and wood construction sites and six animal pens.”
COGAT claimed that the demolitions were carried out because the structures were built near a military firing zone, “endangering the lives of the residents who were present at the structures.”
Nearly 20 percent of the occupied West Bank has been declared "firing zones" since the 1970s, but according to the UN, recent research shows that nearly 80 percent of these areas are not in fact used for military training.
Rights groups have accused Israel of declaring some parts of the West Bank as firing zones as an attempt to annex these areas.
Furthermore, Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.
Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C -- the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control -- are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.
Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge in recent months, as Israeli authorities demolished 835 Palestinian structures so far this year, in a large increase from 531 in all of 2015, according to UN documentation.