The Jordan Valley is seen January 8, 2014
The Jordan Valley is seen January 8, 2014 © Ahmad Gharabli - AFP/File
The Jordan Valley is seen January 8, 2014
AFP
Last updated: February 1, 2014

UN slams Israel destruction of Jordan Valley homes

The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories Friday criticised Israel's demolition of 36 homes in the Jordan Valley and urged a halt to such actions in the West Bank.

Hundreds of activists, meanwhile, staged an overnight demonstration in the Jordan Valley region.

The demolitions in the Jordan Valley community of Ain el-Helwe on Thursday displaced 66 people, including 36 children, James Rawley said in a statement.

"I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians... along the Jordan Valley where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year," he said.

"This activity not only deprives Palestinians of access to shelter and basic services, it also runs counter to international law."

His office said more than 1,000 people had been displaced last year in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem by demolitions on the grounds that homes had been built without Israeli permits, "which are virtually impossible to obtain."

On Friday, around 300 Palestinians together with Israeli and foreign activists set up camp in abandoned houses near Jericho in the West Bank to protest against Israel's refusal to pull out of the Jordan Valley in case of a peace deal, an AFP photographer said.

The demonstrators in Ain Hijleh village were equipped with generators and said they planned to spend the night in around a dozen of the houses, as Israeli troops and police kept watch from a distance.

They held a banner reading: "No peace with settlements."

Their action -- dubbed "Melh al-Ard" (salt of the earth) -- aimed "to revive an old Palestinian Canaanite village in the Jordan Valley," to counter any Israeli annexation plans, the activists said in a statement.

They condemned Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

His efforts would "establish a disfigured Palestinian state and recognises the Israeli entity as a Jewish State," they said.

Such a state would put Arab Israelis at risk of deportation at any time, the activists said.

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