Hundreds displaced in village demolition
HEBRON — Three-hundred Palestinians were displaced Wednesday afternoon when their homes outside a village were torn down by Israeli military order, and witnesses said parts of a schoolhouse were also destroyed.
Odeh An-Najada, a local councilman for the Dakika village, on the Green Line southeast of the Hebron district, said four Israeli bulldozers accompanied by 30 military vehicles entered the area and began taking down the brick and mortar homes.
“They demolished everything in the area, the whole thing, they left no building for people to live in,” An-Nahada said, adding that he had called on the International Red Cross to come and provide shelter for the families for the night.
The director of the office of the Palestinian Authority ministry of education in southern Hebron, Fawzi Abu Hlayyil, said parts of the village school were taken down. The building, used as a preparatory school, contained six classrooms. A space shortage prompted villagers to add an additional room for students, which was taken down.
Villagers protesting the demolitions, including teachers from the local school, were dispersed and four were detained.
Calls to Israel’s Civil Administration, the body which hands out demolition orders for homes deemed illegally built, were not returned.
Hebron district Governor Kamil Hmeid described the demolition as part of Israel’s “ongoing escalation in the Hebron district,” following a mass hand out of demolition orders in the Ein Assy area of Halhoul, a town north of Hebron city, which took place on Jan 5.
Residents said Israeli authorities told them the buildings were slated for demolition because they were built without permission in Area C, under full Israeli planning control.
Area C makes up 60 percent of the West Bank, and Palestinian building is rarely approved by Israeli authorities.
Governor Hmeid said that some of the infrastructure in Dakika was funded by international donors, and he called on the donor countries to protect the money they invested from being rendered useless by Israeli demolition crews.
“Come to Hebron, and see the mass scale of the demolitions,” he invited.
The PA ministry of education condemned the demolition as an “ugly crime.”
Subhi Al-Kayid, the assistant undersecretary to the PA’s education minister, said the demolition was part of a “series of Israeli crimes and violations against the ministry of education.”