The statement by 25 aid organizations said the number of
demolitions increased by almost half and the displacement of
Palestinians by nearly three-quarters between July 2013, when the
talks began, and the end of the year, compared to the same period in
Of the 663 Palestinian structures torn down last year, the highest
number in five years, 122 were built with international donor aid,
the groups said.
The International Red Cross announced this week it would stop
delivering tents to Palestinians made homeless by demolitions in the
Jordan border region of the occupied West Bank, citing Israeli
obstruction and confiscation of aid.
"International and local aid organizations have faced increasingly
severe restrictions in responding to the needs created by the
unlawful demolition of civilian property, in violation of Israel's
obligation to facilitate the effective delivery of aid," wrote the
groups, which included Oxfam and Christian Aid.
Israeli military and political officials did not immediately respond
to requests for comment.
Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with the
Gaza Strip, in the 1967 war. It quit Gaza in 2005, and the enclave
is now governed by Hamas Islamists opposed to Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas's peace-making strategy.
The Palestinians want the more than half a million Jewish settlers
there, along with Israeli soldiers, to leave the occupied
territories. Israel balks at such sweeping pullouts, citing
historical claims on the biblical lands.
The Jordan Valley — the proposed eastern border of a future
independent Palestinian state — has been especially contentious as
Israel insists on keeping an army presence there after any peace
accord. Palestinians have rejected this, saying a temporary
international force should do the job, with Israel observing.
[to top of second column]
In recent decades, the Palestinian population in the region has
declined as the water supply from the River Jordan has been diverted
and Israel set up military zones and settlements.
Palestinian activists set up a protest camp in a derelict village
there last week. At dawn Israeli forces scattered the group ahead of
a mass rally for Friday prayers.
"They came in large numbers with their armored vehicles but that
will not break our will, the popular resistance will continue and
will be victorious and we will return," lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti,
a member of the sit-in, said.
In a statement, the Israeli military described the protesters as
"provocateurs" and said their evacuation was prompted by
stone-throwing attacks on a nearby highway "and other legal
(Reporting by Noah Browning; editing by Janet Lawrence)
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