QALQILYA (Ma’an) – Israeli bulldozers early Thursday morning, escorted by Israeli forces, demolished two agricultural structures in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, claiming they were built without Israeli-issued building permits.
According to local sources, the Israeli army raided the western district of Qalqiliya and demolished a room belonging to Abd al-Basit Khayzaran used for agricultural purposes. Israeli forces then headed to the al-Zaraa district in the south of the city and demolished a room and water tank owned by Hilme Aba also used for agricultural purposes.
The mayor of Qalqiliya, meanwhile, condemned the demolitions, calling the move a “savage act” that aims to expel Palestinians from the lands, and demanded that international authorities protect Palestinian farmers from Israeli aggression.
A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that Israeli authorities had demolished three “illegal” structures in the Qalqiliya area, adding that “the enforcement was carried out after all the necessary warrants were approved.”
Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge in recent months, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 already well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.
According to AFP, the mayor was quoted as saying that the demolition of Amona -- in line with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling -- “could have implications for similar cases in Jerusalem, where Arabs have illegally built on private or municipal land.”
More than 1,383 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in Area C -- the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control, forcing most Palestinians to build without permits.
All building in Area C, whether by Palestinians or Jewish settlers, comes under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Civil Administration which has full control over all zoning and planning issues.
In practice, almost all Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected, with the Civil Administration granting only a handful of permits.