France has condemned Israel for razing several French-funded buildings in the occupied West Bank, warning the regime against destroying structures funded by the European Union (EU) member states.
“France condemns the Israeli army’s destruction of several structures funded by France in the Palestinian village of Nabi Samuel on August 3,” the French government said in a statement on Thursday.
“This is the third time that buildings funded through French humanitarian aid have been demolished or confiscated by Israeli authorities since the beginning of 2016, and notably follows the dismantling of a school in February,” it added.
The statement also denounced Israel demolition of three EU-funded shelters near the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the southern West Bank on Tuesday, voicing alarm at the pace of such moves by Israel.
“With several other EU projects destroyed south of Hebron, France expresses its deep concern over the accelerating rate of these demolitions and confiscations of humanitarian structures built for the Palestinian people in Area C,” it said.
Area C, which is under full Israeli control, covers 360,000 hectares (890,000 acres) of land, equal to 60 percent of the West Bank’s area.
The 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians divides the West Bank into Area A under full Palestinian control, Area B under shared Israeli-Palestinian control, and Area C.
Late last month, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen said that, since 2009, approximately 170 EU-funded structures, of a value of EUR 300,000 (USD 268,000), had been demolished or confiscated.
Approximately 600 structures, worth over EUR 2.3 million (USD 2.5 million), had also been issued demolition, stop-work or eviction orders and are therefore under the threat of demolition, he added.
The Tuesday destructions even prompted an admonitory response from the United States, Israel’s biggest ally. “We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” the US State Department said later on the day.
The destructions are usually meant to provide land for the construction of settlements.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. However, Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlement expansions in the occupied territories.