More than 20 Palestinians were made homeless on Tuesday after Israel destroyed five homes in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank — three of which were funded by the European Union — Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported.
Photos and videos posted to social media by B’Tselem showed Israeli bulldozers destroying the buildings, some of which had the EU flag stuck to their exterior walls, according to the Middle East Eye website.
At least 16 children were among the 27 Palestinians who were living in those houses and are now homeless, according to B’Tselem. This is the second time their homes have been destroyed by Israel this year alone.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah condemned the destruction on Tuesday, calling it a violation of international law. “Israel is relentlessly destroying Palestinians’ homes and livelihoods in order to make way for more illegal settlements,” Hamdallah’s office said in a statement.
“Once again, I call on the international community to step in and stop Israel’s ongoing violations of international law.” Israel says the homes were built “illegally” using “foreign money.”
While Palestinians in the area must obtain building permission from the Israeli army to build homes, the United Nations said that Israel only approved 33—or 1.5 percent—of 2,020 applications for permits in that area submitted between 2010 and 2014.
According to Middle East Eye, the Hathaleen family — whose homes were destroyed — owns a deed to the land on which the village sits. The neighboring Israeli settlement of Carmel was built in the 1980s on land belonging to the Hathaleens.
The EU has been providing funds for people in those areas who need Israeli permission to build homes. The EU provides funds for temporary homes until Israel issues them permits.
However, Israel — which has one of the most right-wing governments in its history — has been cracking down on EU humanitarian missions and activities in Palestine as tensions rise over the latest comments by EU officials criticizing Israel. An EU law that calls for labeling Israeli goods produced in settlements has also angered the Israeli government.
In the first three months of 2016, Israel demolished 165 projects or buildings funded by private and international organizations, according to a July report by Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. Of those, 120 were documented demolitions of EU-financed projects.
The report also said that Israel has destroyed US$73 million worth of EU-funded projects in Palestine over 14 years and urged the bloc to take financial action against the Israeli government.
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