A Palestinian woman rects near the rubble of a mosque that was destroyed by the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Khirbet Yarza
Israeli troops demolished a mosque and over 10 other structures in two areas of the occupied West Bank on Thursday, according to Palestinian sources.
Most of the demolition activity took place in the village of Khirbet Yarza in the northern Jordan Valley, where residents said troops had razed a very old mosque and its much-larger extension, which was built last year.
They also said troops had levelled “more than 10 buildings used for sheep”.
The army confirmed knocking down what it described as “eight temporary structures” that had been built inside a military firing zone.
“The security forces and the Civil Administration destroyed eight temporary structures and the frame of another structure, which were built without the required permits inside a firing zone endangering the lives of the residents,” said COGAT, an Israeli defence ministry unit that acts as a link between the army and the Palestinians.
At the opposite end of the West Bank, Israeli troops destroyed a building which was home to 18 people in the southern town of Yatta, the residents and municipal officials told AFP.
Khirbet Yarza is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control and where all construction and planning issues come under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Civil Administration.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the demolitions, including that of a new road only opened in September by prime minister Salam Fayyad near Salfit in the northern West Bank.
“Our efforts to construct a (Palestinian) state come up against the destruction of this state by Israel,” a statement said, pointing out that the building of the new road had been largely financed by international donors.
Israel controls some 60 per cent of the Palestinian territory, especially areas around Jewish settlements.
Figures from the Israeli NGO Bimkom show that around 95 per cent of applications for a building permit are rejected, with the Civil Administration only granting around 12 permits a year.
United Nations figures show that in 2009, Israel destroyed 180 Palestinian structures in Area C, including 56 residential buildings.