Palestinians have little chance of obtaining a construction permit in the West Bank, while Israel keeps issuing new demolition orders for Palestinian buildings faster than it can bulldoze them, says a new report from the local United Nations mission.
“Official data released by the Israeli authorities indicate that over 11,000 demolition orders – affecting an estimated 13,000 Palestinian-owned structures, including homes – are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank,” begins a report, titled “Under Threat,” published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA-oPt).
While Israel has destroyed over 2,800 buildings since it began issuing demolition orders in 1988, most of them have never been carried out, remaining a Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads Palestinian residents.
“Structures built without permits are regularly served with demolition orders. While only a minority of the orders issued are executed, these orders do not expire and leave affected households in a state of chronic uncertainty and threat,” say the authors. “Where the orders have been implemented, they have resulted in displacement and disruption of livelihoods, the entrenchment of poverty and increased aid dependency.”
A shockingly low percentage of Palestinian applications for permits is ever approved. Israeli Civil Administration data reveals that Palestinians submitted 2,020 requests for building permits in Area C between 2010 and 2014 and only 33 of them (1.5 percent) were approved.
Palestinians have been demanding full recognition as a sovereign state from the UN and the international community for years now.
Recently, a number of international organizations have intensified their criticism of Israel’s stepped up demolition activities in the West Bank.