Residents look at banners made by Palestinian artists marking the 40th Land Day in Gaza City on Wednesday. Land Day commemorates riots on March 30, 1976, when many were killed during a protest by Palestinians in 1948 areas whose property was annexed by the Israeli regime. Image Credit: AP

Ramallah: Statistics show that the Israeli regime has, since the beginning of the year, been engaged in a large and systematic demolition campaign across the West Bank, with demolition rates increasing sharply compared to last year.

According to a hard-worded statement by the Palestinian National Office for Defence of the Land and Resistance to Settlements [colonies], the large-scale demolition campaign aims to expel Palestinian residents from their lands, particularly in the Jordan Valley, the Hebron Hills, Nablus and the Palestinian areas around the Israeli colony block of Ma’ale Adumim.

“Since the beginning of 2016, the Israeli occupation authorities have stepped up their efforts to expel Palestinians and demolish their constructions and structures provided to the Palestinian families by the international aid agencies, mainly the EU, as humanitarian aid,” said the office.

The occupation authorities demolish Palestinian homes and structures under the pretext that the owners of those structures do not hold official building permits from the Israeli authorities which, according to the office, approved less than 1.5 per cent of the total number of building requests submitted by the Palestinians.

“The Palestinians usually submit official and complete building requests to the occupation authorities which categorically reject the requests and return them to the Palestinians without providing a reason for the refusal at a time the occupation authorities, according to the law, should communicate in writing the reasons for rejection of the Palestinian building requests,” said the office.

The office said that Israeli rejection of the Palestinian building request has nothing to do with the building permits, but the exceptionally large-scale home demolition is a mere measure aimed as a collective punishment against the Palestinians, displacing innocent people.

The office said that the Israeli regime does not observe international laws and conventions which prohibit the building of Israeli colonies that aim at constituting a forcible transfer of Palestinians and replace the Palestinians with Israeli population in the occupied territories.

The office said that since the beginning of 2016, the Israeli regime has confiscated 1,200 acres of land in Nablus region (Nablus and its surrounding towns and villages) and 3,842 acres of land in Jericho and the Jordan Valley.