The Associated Press
May 28, 2008 - 6:10pm

More than 3,000 Israeli demolition orders are pending against Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and 10 small communities are at risk of being almost entirely displaced by demolitions, a UN agency said in a report Tuesday.

From 2000 to 2007, Israel demolished more than 1,600 Palestinian-owned structures, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). During the same period, Israel denied 94 per cent of Palestinian requests for building permits, the agency said, citing Israeli government figures.

Israel's military government in the West Bank, which issues building permits and demolition orders, said the demolition orders are almost always issued early in cases of illegal construction, but are often ignored.

Maj. Peter Lerner, an Israeli spokesman, said Israel has approved plans that would allow the construction of hundreds of homes, and that more such approvals are being considered.

The UN report studied building permits and demolitions in so-called Area C, or the 61 per cent of the West Bank where Israel retains full administrative control and where all of Israel's settlements and military bases are located.

Palestinians have greater administrative control in the remaining areas of the West Bank.

At least part of the built-up area of nearly 400 Palestinian villages falls in Area C, the report said. OCHA estimated that about 260,000 Palestinians, or about 10 per cent of the West Bank's population, live in those areas.

The report said that more than 3,000 Israeli demolition orders are pending and could be carried out at any time.

Citing difficulties in obtaining building permits, OCHA noted that many Palestinians build without seeking permits.


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