Gaza police demolish homes in the American neighborhood of Beit Lahiya on April 4, 2017 (MaanImages)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza police demolished Palestinian homes in the American neighborhood of northwestern Beit Lahiya in the northern besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday, reportedly beating and injuring several Palestinians during the incident.
Kamal al-Ghoul, a member of the American neighborhood committee, told Ma’an that Gaza police forces and employees of Gaza’s land authority escorted bulldozers and demolished two homes in the neighborhood.
Al-Ghoul added that when residents and members of the neighborhood’s committee attempted to negotiate with police forces, they were assaulted and beaten, while Gazan authorities proceeded with the demolitions.
The neighborhood, comprising of 250 houses built on top of 39 dunams of government land without official permission, has reportedly held an agreement since Jan. 24 with Gaza’s Ministry of Interior that has permitted residents to keep their houses in exchange for paying the government for the land, Al-Ghoul said.
However, it was unclear whether or not the agreement had yet been implemented by the Gazan government.
Al-Ghoul added that residents were prepared for a compromise with the government that could allow them to pay in installments in order to keep their homes.
Gaza police demolish homes in the American neighborhood of Beit Lahiya on April 4, 2017. (MaanImages)
In January 2016, Gaza’s land authority confirmed to Ma’an that any government employees who were found living on what it referred to as “encroachment” lands or other “random lands” across the Gaza Strip would be prosecuted in a military court.
The head of the land authority said at the time that Gazan authorities had offered cheaper lands to the residents as a solution, adding that it would be easier for them to afford it than the lands in the American neighborhood and offered a discount of up to 60 percent for those who were able to pay all at once.
Tuesday was not the first time that Gaza's police force has been criticized for alleged human rights violations. In 2015, Human Rights Watch reported that Gaza's security and police forces had "tortured or ill-treated" some 258 Palestinians.