more Palestinian home demolitions likely as settler budget doubles – Middle East Monitor

Israeli officials are seeking to double the budget allocated for illegal settlers to monitor Palestinian construction in the occupied West Bank. The budget will go up to $11 million, and is likely to mean that the number of demolitions of Palestinian homes will also increase.

Israeli settlers have been reporting any Palestinian construction work in the occupied West Bank to the Israeli authorities, in an effort to dispossess the Palestinian population. In 2022 an internal official document obtained by Haaretz newspaper showed close cooperation between settlers and Israel’s Civil Administration with regard to reporting any work carried out by Palestinians.

According to UN figures cited by Al Jazeera, Israeli forces have already forcibly displaced 218 Palestinians from their homes after demolitions across Area C in the first three months of 2023, which is more than a third of the 594 Palestinians displaced there in all of 2022.

More demolitions - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

More demolitions – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Area C is largely rural and is the only land remaining for Palestinian expansion and development. It is also the only remaining contiguous part of the West Bank. More than 70 per cent of Area C, about 44 per cent of the whole West Bank, is used for illegal Israeli settlements and military firing zones, among other restricted areas.

Israel’s harassment of Palestinians in the area has increased significantly in recent years. Illegal settlers have also been recruited to monitor Palestinian construction. Occupation forces have been operating a hotline it calls “War Room C” for settlers to call and report Palestinian construction in Area C.

Haaretz reported that recent years have seen the formation of “land departments” in West Bank settlements, which track Palestinian construction and cultivation and report such activity to the Civil Administration and the Israeli military. These departments have no enforcement authority, but its inspectors serve as an additional source of information for the occupation government.

Far-right Israeli politician Orit Strock is the National Missions Minister with responsibility for the monitoring budget that is set to double in size. Strock belongs to the Religious Zionist Party whose leader, Bezalel Smotrich, called recently for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be “wiped out“. Other far-right politicians pushing the settler cause include Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is a disciple of Baruch Goldstein, the settler who massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers and wounded more than 100 others at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in 1994.

READ: Israel demolishes Palestine village of Al-Araqeeb for 215th time

Source link