Israel says 12 Palestinian buildings destroyed in controversial demolition

Updated 23 July 2019

Israel says 12 Palestinian buildings destroyed in controversial demolition

  • EU and UN officials disapproved of Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes
  • Palestinian Authority said the buildings are located under their control according to 1990s Oslo accords

JERUSALEM: Israel said Tuesday a total of 12 Palestinian buildings it considered illegally constructed were demolished in a controversial operation the previous day, while a UN preliminary assessment showed 24 people displaced.
The demolitions of Palestinian homes, most of which were still under construction, drew condemnation from the European Union and UN officials.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia condemned on Tuesday Israel's demolition, urging world powers to "stop this aggression".
"The cabinet strongly condemned and denounced authorities of the Israeli occupation for the demolition of dozens of houses in... east Jerusalem," said a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
"It called on the international community to intervene to stop this aggression and dangerous escalation that targets Palestinians."
Israel says the homes south of Jerusalem were built too close to its separation barrier cutting off the occupied West Bank, posing a security risk, and the demolitions were approved by its supreme court following a lengthy process.
Palestinian leaders expressed outrage at the demolitions in the Sur Baher area, which straddles the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
They note that most of the buildings were located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Before dawn Monday, hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers sealed off buildings in the area while residents and activists were dragged out.
A statement from Israeli defense ministry unit COGAT said “12 buildings and two building foundations were demolished,” adding that they were “built illegally.”
Israel’s supreme court “ruled that the buildings may be demolished as they constitute a security danger to the area of the security fence,” the statement said.
UN humanitarian agency OCHA said a preliminary assessment showed 24 people, including 14 children, were displaced.
More than 300 people were affected by the demolitions, it said.
Prior to the demolitions, OCHA said the buildings were to include some 70 apartments. It said those being displaced were from three households.
On June 18, a 30-day notice was given by Israeli authorities informing of their intent to demolish the buildings.
Residents fear another 100 buildings in the area in a similar situation could be at risk in the near future.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
It began construction of the separation barrier during the bloody second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and says it is necessary to protect against attacks.
Palestinians see it as an “apartheid wall” and a potent symbol of the Israeli occupation.


Turkey vows not to quit besieged army post in Syria

Updated 24 August 2019

Turkey vows not to quit besieged army post in Syria

  • Calls for a ‘political solution’ to the crisis 

BEIRUT: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday said Ankara wants “a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” and that its soldiers “will not leave the besieged observation post south of Idlib” after Syrian regime forces took control of the area.
The recent advances by Bashar Assad’s forces have put Turkish troops stationed in the region in the firing line and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, threatening Ankara’s hopes of preventing a fresh wave of refugees on its southern border.
Speaking at a press conference in Lebanon, Cavusoglu said: “We are not there because we are unable to leave but because we do not want to.”
He denied that the Turkish forces are isolated in Morek, where their largest observation post is based. He said: “This post is not encircled, and no one can isolate it. The Syrian regime forces are leading activities in the vicinity of this post, we are discussing this with Russia and Iran.”
His comments followed a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the Anatolia Agency, Erdogan told Putin that the “developments in Idlib would cause a major humanitarian crisis” and “undermine the process of reaching a settlement in Syria and pose a serious threat to Turkish national security.”
Cavusoglu met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
Rafic Chlala, the media adviser to Aoun, told Arab News: “The Turkish official gave a presentation on the current military developments in Idlib, and a view of the future was delivered, but he did not ask anything from Lebanon.”
During a joint press conference with Bassil, Cavusoglu said: “Turkey will exchange experiences with Lebanon to return Syrian refugees to their country. Ankara understands Beirut’s suffering from the refugee crisis.”
He added: “Syrian refugees are afraid of returning to their country. This fear must be dispelled, and the international community should give greater importance to meeting the basic needs of Syrians.”
Lebanon hosts over 1 million Syrian refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Beirut estimates the real figure is over 1.5 million.
Cavusoglu proposed “to organize a joint forum with Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq on the return of Syrians and invite the international community to participate.”
During his meeting with Cavusoglu, Aoun said: “The international community’s continued disregard for the need for Syrian refugees to return to their country raises many questions.”
According to his media office, Aoun said the return of displaced people to their homes remains a common concern for Lebanon and Turkey. He reiterated that the provision of international assistance to refugees inside Syria is an important incentive for their return.
Aoun added: “Until now, Syrian refugees who have returned to Syria under the supervision of the Lebanese General Security did not suffer any persecution. The process of returning refugees will continue in turn.”
Cavusoglu said that Turkey shares Lebanon’s stance in supporting the return of refugees.
He told Aoun that Turkey will vote for Lebanon to establish the Human Academy for Encounter and Dialogue when the item is submitted to the UN on Sept. 13.
Berri’s media office said that talks with Cavusoglu included “the general situation in the region, the need to uphold the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, the importance of a political solution in Syria that ensures its unity and sovereignty and the return of refugees.”
Cavusoglu said: “Turkey views Lebanon as a neighbor and a sister country. The stability and growth of this country are very important for us and the region. We will continue to support Lebanon, and many Turkish energy companies want to invest there.”
The Turkish president will visit Moscow on Tuesday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, the presidency said in a statement, days after a Turkish convoy was hit by an airstrike in Syria.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the Putin-Erdogan meeting on Aug. 27 to the Russian agencies.