Israel demolishes homes in Bedouin village
Jerusalem - Israeli forces overnight demolished the home of a Bedouin family near Jerusalem for the fifth time, along with four other structures in an unrecognised Bedouin village, an Israeli NGO said on Tuesday.
Israel's Civil Administration, the military body that oversees the West Bank, confirmed the demolitions.
"During the night, there were five demolitions of illegal structures that were occupied by Bedouin populations. We're talking about illegal structures that were built without the permission needed," Civil Administration spokesperson Guy Inbar told AFP.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said Israeli forces had demolished Beit Arabiya, a family home and "peace centre" that has now been demolished five times since 1994.
20 people displaced
"Beit Arabiya was issued a demolition order by Israeli authorities back in 1994, following their failure to grant a building permit. It has since been demolished four times, to be rebuilt by ICAHD activists," the group said.
Other structures demolished included three homes, along with structures for housing animals.
"Twenty people, including young children, were displaced, left exposed to the harsh desert environment," ICAHD said.
The group said its co-director Itay Epshtain was "beaten and sustained minor injuries" during the demolitions. The Israeli military said it was looking into the allegations.
The demolitions took place in the Anata Hills, near Jerusalem, in an area of the West Bank that is under full Israeli civil and military control, where residents must obtain Israeli construction permits before building homes.
Israel says it only demolishes structures that have been built without the required permission, but Palestinians say they are rarely granted permits.
Demolitions in the dead of night
Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, condemned the demolitions in a statement.
"These demolitions happened in the dead of night, it was freezing cold, in a community without electricity," he said.
"Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to deliver services, not as in this case, to demolish them," he added.
Last year, a coalition of international rights groups and aid organisations said Israel's demolition of homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem had displaced more than 1 000 people in 2011, twice that of the previous year and the highest number since 2005.