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NGOs slam ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel

More than 1,000 Palestinians displaced this year alone due to ongoing home demolitions by Israel, say rights groups

AFP , Tuesday 13 Dec 2011

The demolition of homes in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem by Israel displaced more than 1,000 Palestinians in 2011, double the previous year.

"Since the beginning of the year more than 500 Palestinian homes, wells, rainwater harvesting cisterns, and other essential structures have been destroyed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, displacing more than 1,000 Palestinians," a joint statement by 20 human rights and aid organisations said.

"This is more than double the number of people displaced over the same period in 2010, and the highest figure since at least 2005," it added, citing United Nations figures. It went on to criticise the international peacemaking “Quartet,” which consists of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

Direct Israeli-Palestinian talks have been on hold for over a year, grinding to a halt over the issue of settlement construction shortly after they restarted in September 2010 following a 20-month hiatus. "There is a growing disconnect between the Quartet talks and the situation on the ground," the statement quoted Oxfam International's Jeremy Hobbs as saying.

"The Quartet needs to radically revise its approach and show that it can make a real difference to the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

"The Quartet should call ongoing settlement expansion and house demolitions what they are: violations of international humanitarian law that Israel should stop," added Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch. Among other signatories were Amnesty International and Christian Aid.

The statement pointed to a sharp rise in Jewish settlement projects in mainly Arab east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and unilaterally annexed shortly after in a move never recognised by the international community.

"Plans for around 4,000 new settler housing units have been approved in east Jerusalem over the past 12 months – the highest number since at least 2006," it said, citing figures from Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.

It went on to cite UN data showing a 50 per cent rise in settler attacks on Palestinians in 2011 compared to the previous year and the highest since 2005.

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