Israel steps up forced evictions of West Bank Palestinians

Amnesty International has urged the Israeli authorities to halt forced evictions of Palestinians in the West Bank after a recent spate of military eviction orders were served on Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley.Seventeen families in the Jordan Valley area are at imminent risk of forced eviction after being issued with eviction orders last week.”These evictions orders are just one example of Palestinians’ right to adequate housing being violated – the Israeli authorities must immediately cancel all eviction and demolition orders,” said Philip Luther,Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.”Palestinians living under Israeli occupation face such tight restrictions on what they can build that they are in an impossible situation. Whatever choice they make, they face homelessness.”On 24 June, Israeli military officials, accompanied by soldiers, served eviction orders to two families living in the village of ‘Ein al-Hilwe. On 27 June, military authorities delivered eviction orders for 15 more families in the nearby area of al-Farisiya. In both cases, residents were told they had 24 hours to leave the area. In total, 83 people face forced eviction in the area.According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, a spokesperson from the Israeli military authority said the evictions in al-Farisiya were ordered because the homes are in a “closed military zone”. Under Israeli law, evicted families are not entitled to alternative housing or compensation, meaning many would face homelessness and destitution were it not for relatives, friends and charities. While homes are often targeted, Israeli authorities have also issued demolition orders against Palestinian schools, clinics, roads, water cisterns, electricity pylons, sheds and animal shelters.According to the UN, in 2009 more than 600 Palestinians – over half of them children – lost their homes after they were demolished on order from the Israeli authorities.Amnesty International has called on the Israeli authorities to place a moratorium on house demolitions and evictions in the West Bank.”The responsibility for planning and building regulations in the Jordan Valley and elsewhere must be removed from the Israeli military authorities and placed solely with the local Palestinian communities,” said Philip Luther.