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The New Arab

Israel destroys another 40 Palestinian West Bank homes

The homes destroyed on Thursday housed over 100 Palestinians [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 February, 2016

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The Israeli army on Thursday destroyed dozens of Palestinian homes in West Bank villages as part of a continued effort to drive impoverished Palestinian communities from their land.
Israeli forces destroyed at least 40 Palestinian homes in some of the most deprived villages of the West Bank on Thursday.

The demolitions are part of an ongoing Israeli plan to create a designated military zone, known as Firing Zone 918, which has resulted in some of the most extensive demolition programmes in the occupied West Bank in recent years.

The homes destroyed on Thursday housed more than 100 Palestinians.

Israeli forces and bulldozers stormed the Palestinian communities of al-Farisiya and Khallet al-Khader, demolished seven homes and displaced seven families, Mutaz Bsharat, a Palestinian official said.

Israeli forces also demolished 35 buildings in Bardala and Ein al-Baida, Bsharat added.
[click to enlarge]

The action came despite a long-running and internationally high profile campaign to protect the eight villages in the "military zone", including a petition signed by globally recognised authors.

Israel declared the area a military zone in the 1980s, preventing the expansion of Palestinian tows, and demanded in 1999 that residents leave.

Human rights groups have continuously challenged Israel's claim to the land, arguing it is illegal under international law to establish a military zone in occupied territory.

Israeli troops also frequently use "military exercises" to indirectly displace Palestinians from the Jordan Valley. Residents are ordered to evacuate their homes during military training operations, which often leave local crops and land belonging to the Palestinians badly damaged.

Israel has carried out near-daily demolitions across the occupied West Bank since the start of January, so far displacing more than 168 people, including 94 children.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on Wednesday for ghettoising Palestinian areas by unilaterally separating from the Palestinians "as much as possible".

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, pledged to build a fence to protect Israel from "predatory beasts."

"In the end in Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence like this that surrounds the whole country," Netanyahu said.

"In the environment where we live we must defend ourselves from the predators," he added.

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