Israel destroys 12 Palestinian buildings

JERUSALEM: Israel said on Tuesday a total of 12 Palestinian buildings it considered illegally constructed were demolished in a controversial operation the previous day, while a UN preliminary assessment showed 24 people displaced.
The demolitions of Palestinian homes, most of which were still under construction, drew condemnation from the European Union and UN officials.
Israel says the homes south of Jerusalem were built too close to its separation barrier cutting off the occupied West Bank, posing a security risk, and the demolitions were approved by its supreme court following a lengthy process.
Palestinian leaders expressed outrage at the demolitions in the Sur Baher area, which straddles the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
They note that most of the buildings were located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Before dawn on Monday, hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers sealed off buildings in the area while residents and activists were dragged out.
A statement from Israeli defence ministry unit COGAT said “12 buildings and two building foundations were demolished,” adding that they were “built illegally”.
Israel’s supreme court “ruled that the buildings may be demolished as they constitute a security danger to the area of the security fence,” the statement said.
UN humanitarian agency OCHA said a preliminary assessment showed 24 people, including 14 children, were displaced.
More than 300 people were affected by the demolitions, it said.
Prior to the demolitions, OCHA said the buildings were to include some 70 apartments. It said those being displaced were from three households.
On June 18, a 30-day notice was given by Israeli authorities informing of their intent to demolish the buildings.
Meanwhile, Israeli election contender and ex-premier Ehud Barak apologised on Tuesday for the killing of Israeli Arabs in bloody 2000 protests, after an Arab lawmaker slammed him in a newspaper editorial.
Barak, who hopes to topple incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held the post himself
in 2000 when security forces
killed 13 people when protests marking the annual “Land Day” turned violent.
Land Day commemorates the killing of six Israeli Arabs in 1976 protests over government confiscation of their land.
Israeli Arab lawmaker Esawi Frej wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper on Tuesday that Barak must apologise and take responsibility for the deaths. Earlier this month Frej, of the opposition Meretz party, ruled out an alliance with Barak’s Israel Democratic Party in the September general election because of the 2000 killings. — AFP