RAMALLAH, 17 August 2011 (IRIN) – Each year, hundreds of Palestinians in Area C have their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities because they are unable to obtain permits for their buildings, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Area C covers 60 percent of the West Bank with a Palestinian population of about 150,000.
Israel retains military authority and full control over building and planning in Area C: as much as 70 percent of it is inaccessible to Palestinians, classified as Israeli settlement areas, firing zones, or nature reserves.
In the remaining 30 percent there are a number of other restrictions that reduce the possibility for Palestinians to obtain a building permit, reports OCHA. In practice, Palestinian construction is normally permitted only within the boundaries of a plan approved by the Israeli Civil Administration, which covers less than 1 percent of Area C, much of which is already built-up, according to OCHA.
Many Palestinians living in Area C are left with no choice other than to build without a permit.
Israel says authorities have only demolished illegal structures, and that Jewish and Palestinian residents in Area C are subject to the same restrictions.
An August 2011 OCHA report highlights the concerns of 13 Area C communities, including restrictive and discriminatory planning and zoning policies which limit Palestinian construction and use of the land, and lack of effective law enforcement in response to settler attacks.