Demolition in the south of the West Bank (MEMO)
Within the first two weeks of May, nine of the buildings demolished by Israeli authorities were provided by donors as part of humanitarian aid, including a school. They were demolished on the grounds that they lacked permits issued by the Israeli authorities however these permits are rarely if ever granted to Palestinians despite Palestinians spending many thousands of dollars on legal and application fees when their plans are submitted for approval. With growing families, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem must either extend their homes or build new ones without firstly obtaining a licence, a chance they take to remain in their location.
In total, during the first five months of 2023 there have been 33 per cent more demolitions than the same period in 2022 across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, the number of demolished structures was almost two times higher.
Jubbet Adh Dhib school demolition
Photo: Jubbet Adh Dhiba schoo before demoition - Peace Now
Most of the demolitions were targeted in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, including the donor funded Jubbet Adh Dhib school in the small Palestinian village of Bayt Ta’mar, to the east of Bethlehem. The school had five classrooms and more than sixty pupils between the first and fourth grades. The bulldozers, army trucks and vehicles arrived at 4am on 7th May, and the sound of the bulldozers woke the villagers. Parents and school children rushed to the scene to try to prevent the demolition. Some stones were thrown, and the army retaliated with bullets, tear gas and sound bombs injuring 50 and with one person losing an eye when hit with a rubber bullet.
Following the demolition, villagers along with assistance from internationals, set up two tents to allow the children to continue their studies however on Wednesday, 10th May, the Israeli army arrived to destroy the tents. It is now the summer holiday, so school is out, but the village is determined to find a way to allow the children to continue studying in the autumn.
10 European countries, including the UK, urge Israel to stop the demolitions
A statement released within weeks of the demolition of the Jubbet Adh Dhib school called on “Israel, as the occupying power, to halt all confiscations and demolitions and to give unimpeded access to humanitarian organizations in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.”
This joint statement was released on 26th May by the consulates general of Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland and the Office of the European Union Representative to the West Bank and Gaza.
It also urged Tel Aviv to “return or compensate for all humanitarian items funded by the consortium of donors,” in reference to Israel’s demolition of buildings funded by the European Union since 2015 estimated at 1,291,000 euros (£1,106,186).
In addition, the ten countries “strongly condemned the recent demolition of the donor-funded school in Jubbet Adh Dhib” and expressed “their grave concern about the threatened demolition of another 57 schools in the West Bank.”
Actions You Can Take
We urge you to write to your MP stating that you were encouraged that the UK joined with nine other European countries in the call for Israel to halt demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures. However, the statement has not been enough because Israel continues with demolitions and displacement of the Palestinian people. With 100 demolitions happening within the month of May and ongoing now into June, it proves that Israel has every intention of removing the indigenous Palestinian people from their homeland in violation of international law. Send your MP the information from this bulletin along with links to our report for May and the maps accompanying it. Also remind your MP that Israel continues building its illegal settlements with the intention of doubling that population within the next few years. The UK must take decisive action to hold Israel to account as it simply ignores words of condemnation.