WEST BANK (Palestine): Israeli soldiers and police along with bulldozers moved into Palestinian village of Sur Baher on Monday to demolish about 100 homes in Wadi al-Hummus area despite Palestinian protests and international criticism.
The Israeli military considers the homes close to the barrier – that crisscrosses the occupied West Bank – locally called as “apartheid wall” – a security risk.
The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the military last month. The court has set Monday as the deadline to demolish the homes – an act, Palestinians say will set a precedent for other towns along the route of the barrier, which runs for hundreds of kilometres around and through the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Palestinians say Israel is using security as an excuse evict them of the area as part of long-term efforts to expand settlements. All settlements on occupied Palestinian lands are illegal under international law.
They also point out that most of the buildings in Wadi al-Hummus area are meant to be under the Palestinian Authority and civilian control under the 1993 Oslo accords.
Sur Baher, a Palestinian village on the edge of the occupied East Jerusalem, was captured and occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.
The pending demolition is the latest round of protracted wrangling over the future of Jerusalem, home to more than 500,000 Israelis and 300,000 Palestinians, and sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Residents said they would be made homeless. Owners said they had obtained permission to build from the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
“When the house is demolished, we will be in the streets,” Ismail Abadiyeh, 42, who lives in one of the buildings under threat with his family, including four children, told the diplomats last week.
But Israeli Supreme Court said that the structures violated a construction ban.