The UN has condemned the Israel Defence Force (IDF) for demolishing parts of a Bedouin settlement for the second time in just two weeks in the village of Khirbet Tana near Nablus. One of the buildings destroyed by the army is a school built with money donated by the EU.
Khirbet Tana lies one mile inside Area C, Israeli-controlled land which comprises around 60% of the West Bank. Most of the 40 or so families there have no running water or electricity and many live in tents or caves. The IDF says it is just enforcing court orders to demolish illegally-constructed buildings that are close to an Israeli military firing zone, but the UN disagrees.
"Declaring the area a firing zone is just an excuse," said UN assistant secretary general Robert Piper. "The rights of Palestinians in these zones are frankly being denied."
In February the IDF demolished the village school, meaning 23 children had nowhere to study. The European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) funded the building of a new school. Now that too has been demolished.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for occupied Palestinian territory, "approximately 18% of area of the West Bank has been declared by the Israeli authorities as 'firing zones'; 38 Palestinian communities are located within these areas. Because the Israeli Civil Administration prohibits construction in these areas, wide-scale demolitions frequently take place."
Since the beginning of 2016, more than 400 homes have been demolished across the West Bank – more than the whole of 2015. Many Palestinians believe the increase in the number of demolitions in the area is to enable the construction of more settlements. Khirbet Tana is encircled by illegal Israeli outposts which are occupied by settlers, and which are now beginning to link with more established settlements in the area.