The Israeli military has dramatically increased the number of demolitions of Palestinian homes and other buildings in the occupied West Bank, according to the United Nations.
Figures collated by the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) show that there have been an average of 165 demolitions a month since January.
In February alone, 235 buildings were taken down, and the UN agency has claimed people are being driven from the land as a result.
The Israeli military, which has occupied the West Bank for nearly 50 years, claims it carries out the demolitions because the structures are illegal and do not have the necessary planning permits.
But left-wing politician and member of parliament, Dov Khenin, claims the government is trying to appropriate the land so Israelis can settle there in the future.
He described the demolitions as “ethnic cleansing in a very sophisticated way”.
Israel denies that is the case, and claims the law is applied equally to Palestinians and Israeli settlers.
In a statement to Sky News, it said: “The civil administration, by its power, takes enforcement measures against any sort of illegal construction in Area C.”
Despite the denial, UN fieldworker Matthew Ryder says it is “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to get the approval they need.
He explained: “Israel’s own figures show that, between 2010 and 2014, Palestinians in the area that Israel controls only managed to obtain 33 permits for building on their land – that’s something like 1.5% of the permits that are actually granted.”
The land where the demolitions are taking place is in Area C of the West Bank.
Israel decides whether Palestinians can build there because under the Oslo Accords it has the power to control planning law.
He told us the Israelis arrived one morning in February and pulled it down because they said it was an illegal construction.
Wassif added: “I feel like any man deprived would feel. This is my land, it’s well documented. I have papers from the Jordanian government.
“We’ve always lived like this and now the Israelis tell us we have to leave our land.”
The UN says the use of the law is “restrictive” and “discriminatory”, and the people most affected are Bedouin and Palestinian farmers. – SKY NEWS