SALFIT (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities on Wednesday delivered 19 stop-work orders to Palestinian residents in the towns of Kafr al-Dik, Kifl Haris, and Deir Istiya in the northern occupied West Bank Salfit district.
Palestinian officials from the Salfit governorate told Ma’an that Israeli officials ordered Palestinian residents of the towns to immediately halt the construction of houses and buildings, claiming they were being built illegally in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control.
Officials called the move punitive, and vowed to move forward with appropriate legal procedures to prevent the likely demolition of the 19 structures in question.
A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, was unavailable for immediate comment on the incident.
Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally, and placing them under the constant risk of demolitions at the hands of Israeli forces.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.
Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem saw an unprecedented surge in 2016, as Israeli authorities demolished 1,081 Palestinian structures as of Dec. 26 according to UN documentation
, doubling the number of demolitions since 2015, when 531 Palestinian structures were demolished.