June 29, 2010
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Ten families in the Jordan Valley were handed home demolition orders on Sunday and given 24 hours to evacuate their lands.
Most of the homes to be demolished belong to the Daraghmah and Al-Makahmreh families, who say they have documents proving their ownership of the land filed with Israel's Land Registry.
The families said they had been issued demolition orders before, however this was the first time they had been given a 24-hour notice.
A spokesman from the Israeli Civil Administration office said the orders were given because the homes are in a "fire zone", putting the residents "at risk."
The homes slated for demolition are in Al-Farsieyah in the Tubas municipality, all in “Area C”, under zoning regulations established under the Oslo Accords, putting them under Israeli civil and military control.
Several villages in Tubas have been targeted by home demolition orders in recent days. Six families in the villages of Al-Hadidiya and Khirbet Humsa were given 10 days to evacuate their land on 21 June, a move which would see 50 Palestinians homeless and without their livelihoods.
So far this year, 125 Palestinians have been displaced by home demolitions in “Area C”, which encompasses 60 percent of the West Bank and is under full Israeli military and administrative control, according to UN reports.
Palestinians can only build within boundaries specified by the Israeli Civil Administration, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has noted, an area that constitutes less than one percent of “Area C”, and much of this is already built up.
Effectively, "in almost the entirety of the Jordan Valley, Palestinian construction is prohibited,” a UN office reported in December 2009.
In a recent report, Amnesty International's deputy director, Philip Luther, remarked that "Demolition and eviction orders do not just destroy people's homes. They also take away their possessions and their hopes for a secure future,"
Last year, at least 600 Palestinians, half of them children, were made homeless by home demolition orders, the report said.
Bethlehem/Gaza – Ma’an – It is "shameful" that the international community allowed the Gaza siege to enter its fourth year as "750,000 innocent children are paying the toll," UNRWA director of Gaza operations John Ging said Sunday.
Speaking at a news conference in Gaza City, Ging added “The political focus should be translated into action rather than discussing improvements or easing the siege. This siege must end completely and immediately.”
Further, he noted that ending the blockade would not only bring peace to the Strip, but to the whole region.
UNRWA currently provides aid for around 800,000 of the 1 million refugees living in the coastal enclave.
In a statement to the Advisory Commission last week, UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi explained that the organization has reduced the support it provides to refugees “hardest hit by poverty and social marginalization” due to a lack of funding.
Grandi condemned the “inherently pathological nature” of the Gaza blockade, which he said is “causing human misery on a massive scale.”
By Frank Jack Daniel
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez described Israel on Saturday as a genocidal state that acted as an assassin for the United States, predicting the Middle East nation would one day be "put in its place."
The socialist Chavez is a harsh critic of both Israel and the United States and cut relations with Israel after accusing it of "holocaust" for its 2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip.
"It has become the assassin arm of the United States, no one can doubt it. It is a threat to all of us," Chavez said, during a visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Chavez said he supported a peaceful struggle for the return to Syria of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967.
"The territory will one day return to the Syrian hands," Chavez said. "Of course we want it to be peaceful because we don't want more war."
"But one day the genocidal state of Israel will be put into its place, and let's hope that a really democratic state emerges there, with which we can share a path and ideas."
Chavez did not offer further details of what putting Israel "in its place" would entail.
U.S. attempts to isolate Syria and reshape the Middle East have failed, he said, and Israel was fast losing allies.
Israel last week eased its land blockade on the Gaza Strip, allowing in all goods except for arms and related materials. That move followed widespread criticism for a raid on a blockade-busting group of boats, in which nine activists died.
Hugely popular in the Arab world for his fierce "anti-imperialist" stance. Chavez received a hero's welcome when he visited Syria in 2006. He returned to Damascus on a tour last year.
Assad arrived in Venezuela on Friday, the first stop on a rare Latin American tour. He is also due to visit Argentina, Brazil and Cuba.
Syria has started to raise its international profile in recent years, shrugging off Western efforts to weaken it and developing ties with former foe Turkey, Russia and with Latin American nations.
Assad, who faces a decline in domestic oil production and droughts that have hit agriculture, is looking to reinforce links with a rich Syrian expatriate community in the region and with economic power Brazil.
His tour is expected to focus on bilateral issues and Syria's hopes to attract $44 billion in private foreign investment over five years to repair its infrastructure.
He applauded Chavez's loud criticism of the United States and Israel. "Few politicians are brave enough to say no, when it is necessary to say no," Assad said as he arrived at the Miraflores presidential palace.
"He has revealed an image of Venezuela in resistance, creating a place for Venezuela on the international map. He has been on the side on just causes both in Latin America, in our region the Middle East and in the whole world."
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; editing by Todd Eastham)
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