WASHINGTON, (WAFA) – The newly-appointed Spokesperson for the United States Department of State, John Kirby, expressed deep concern over the recent Israeli escalation of Palestinian home demolitions, said a statement issued by the spokesperson’s office on Friday.
“We are very troubled by the recent escalation of demolitions and evictions, which include the destruction of dozens of structures and the displacement of over 150 people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this month alone,” read the statement.
He described these demolitions and evictions as ‘harmful and provocative and indicative of a damaging trend, particularly given settlement-related activity and continued construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.’
Meanwhile, Kirby also expressed deep concern over recent developments throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. “We continue to condemn all acts of violence, including recent attacks, and call on all sides to take steps to de-escalate tensions and restore calm.”
“We continue to urge all parties to refrain from problematic actions that undercut the possibility of peace and demonstrate with actions their commitment to a two state solution,” concluded the statement.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Robert Piper, and the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, expressed grave concern about demolitions that were carried out [Monday] by the Israeli Civil Administration in vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin refugee communities in Area C, near East Jerusalem, reported the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Both officials called for an immediate freeze on demolitions in the West Bank.
According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights center, this ‘wave of demolitions left dozens of people homeless in the extreme August heat. Since 5 Aug. 2015, the Civil Administration has demolished 34 residential buildings and 31 other structures in Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, in the vicinity of Ma’ale Adumim, and in the southern Hebron hills. A total of 167 people have lost their homes in these actions, including 101 minors.’
“These demolitions take part in the context of efforts by the military and the Civil Administration to push Palestinian communities out of Area C,” said the center, adding that, “These expulsion plans run counter to the provisions of international humanitarian law, which prohibit the forcible transfer of protected persons, unless carried out for their own protection or for an imperative military need.”
The center stressed that, ‘Even when the transfer meets these criteria, it must be temporary.”
“As the occupying power, Israel has an obligation to work for the benefit and welfare of the residents of the occupied territory. The plan to expel these residents from their homes as well as impose living conditions on some that would undermine their livelihood violates this obligation,” stated the center.