Israel razes Palestinian homes near West Bank settlement
AFP, Wednesday 8 Dec 2010
Signaling the collapse of the peace process, Israeli troops demolished a school and around 15 Palestinian homes an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Wednesday

Israeli troops razed around 15 Palestinian homes and a school near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Wednesday, Palestinian security sources and witnesses said.

The action by the army, which frequently demolishes Palestinian buildings it says have been built without permission from the Israeli authorities, came as the Israeli government successfully rebuffed appeals from Washington for a new freeze on settlement construction in the occupied territory.

The Israeli bulldozers moved in during the morning in Khirbet Tana village in the northern West Bank, the witnesses said.

It was the third time that Palestinian buildings near the Mekhora settlement had been flattened by the army, the security sources said, the last one being 18 months ago. Some 200 villagers have been affected.

International human rights watchdogs have repeatedly criticised the home demolitions.

"The current system whereby the Israeli military has sole responsibility for what Palestinians can or cannot build in the majority of the occupied West Bank is unacceptable," Amnesty International said in a July report.

"Planning and building decisions should lie with the local Palestinian communities."