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Israel ramps up home demolitions

Children hold signs
Children hold signs (Annie Slemrod/IRIN)

As Palestinians mark the 40th anniversary of Land Day, home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem appear to be on the rise.

As of 21 March, Israel had already destroyed 370 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and 36 in East Jerusalem in 2016, displacing 534 people.

In comparison, a total of 447 structures in the West Bank and 74 in East Jerusalem were knocked down in all of 2015.

Land Day commemorates a 1976 mass protest by Palestinian citizens of Israel over the government’s confiscation of land. Six Arab-Israelis were killed in clashes, and since then the day has been an annual demonstration against Israeli policies in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Home demolitions are done for both administrative and punitive reasons, and they don’t just take place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: Israel also takes down structures inside Israel, mostly in Bedouin villages that aren’t recognised by the state.

For more on the different types of demolitions and the displacement they cause, see our 2015 report: Four facts you might not know about housing demolitions by Israel.

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