BEIRUT

Middle East

Israel demolishes EU-funded shelters in West Bank

A Palestinian protester returns a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest against the Jewish settlement of Ofra, in the West Bank village of Silwad, near Ramallah April 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has demolished several European Union-funded humanitarian housing shelters in a highly sensitive strip of West Bank land near Jerusalem, an EU official said Friday.

“On April 9, three of some 18 residential structures were demolished ... in Jabal al-Baba,” an area outside the sprawling settlement of Maale Adumim, a spokesman for the EU’s delegation to the Palestinian territories told AFP.

The tin huts, used to house Palestinians made homeless by severe winter weather at the beginning of the year, were “partially funded by EU member states,” the official said.

Israel issued demolition orders on all 18 structures in February, the official said, and EU delegates “raised this with the Israeli authorities” both at that time of and after the demolitions.

The EU official said only that there were ongoing discussions with Israeli authorities over the demolitions, but a report by EurActiv, a Brussels-based news service, said diplomats were demanding financial compensation.

“We should ask for compensation from Israel whenever EU-funded humanitarian aid projects are destroyed,” EurActiv quoted an anonymous diplomat as saying.

Israel’s military administration of the occupied Palestinian territories could not immediately comment on the demolitions.

The structures were located in E1, in the West Bank, east of Jerusalem.

Israel has been planning construction in E1 since the early 1990s but nothing has ever been built there due to heavy international pressure. Plans unveiled in December 2012 to build 1,200 units were quickly put on hold after the announcement triggered a major diplomatic backlash.

The Palestinians argue that construction in E1 would effectively cut the West Bank in two and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 12, 2014, on page 11.

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