Monday, 16 September 2019 12:27 GMT

Palestine- West Bank village challenges Israel's iron grip on planning

(MENAFN - The Peninsula) It was a large house with three floors and freshly painted pale blue shutters that had just been built for a family of 17.

But within a few hours of work by a pair of Israeli bulldozers, all that was left was a mountain of rubble and twisted metal.

Like more than half of the homes in Ad Deirat-Rifaiyya - a village of 1,800 residents on a windswept hillside in the southern West Bank - the house was built on land owned by the villagers but without Israel's approval.

Left without a roof over their heads and unwilling to try building again, the family moved away to rented accommodation in a nearby town.

It is a scenario that plays out hundreds of times a year across most of the West Bank, where Israel has made it all-but-impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits.

The result is wide-scale "illegal" construction, which is then demolished by Israel in a policy that has drawn widespread condemnation.

The question of Israel's iron grip on all planning matters in what is known as "Area C" - which covers more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank - is now being debated by the Israeli Supreme Court.

In a landmark appeal, Ad-Deirat village, Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights and three other organisations are demanding the state end its discriminatory housing policies and return local planning rights to Palestinians.

Giving Palestinians control over their own planning would curb the need for illegal building, thereby halting house demolitions, say the petitioners, who have made their case before the Supreme Court and are now waiting for a final ruling.

Palestine- West Bank village challenges Israel's iron grip on planning

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