Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in occupied West Bank to make way for firing range
Israel's military has demolished at least 18 buildings and structures in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday following a Supreme Court decision that would expel around 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in an area Israel had designated a firing zone, rights groups said.
B’Tselem said in a statement that Border Police and soldiers levelled a total of 18 structures, including 12 residential buildings, in villages in the hills south of the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday.
The demolitions came a week after Israel’s Supreme Court upheld an expulsion order that would force out residents of a cluster of Bedouin communities in Masafer Yatta, an area that has been their home for decades. The military declared the area a firing zone in the early 1980s.
Neither COGAT, the Israeli military body in charge of civilian affairs in the occupied territory, nor the army responded to requests for comment about the demolitions.
An Israeli planning committee was slated to convene Thursday to advance over 4,500 housing units in Israel’s West Bank settlements, many of them deep inside the territory, according to Israeli activist group Peace Now.
If approved, it would be the largest batch of new settlement housing construction since President Joe Biden took office.
Settlements are illegal under international law, but Israel has continued to expand such areas in occupied Palestinian territories. Settlers and occupying Israeli forces routinely attack and kill local Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built more than 130 settlements across the territory that are home to nearly 500,000 settlers. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank under Israeli military rule.
The Palestinians say the expansion of settlements are a major obstacle to any future peace deal because they reduce and divide up the land on which such a state would be established. Most of the international community views the settlements as illegal.