Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Israel razing more Palestinian homes, wells: monitors

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has stepped up its demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied land this year, razing double the number of homes and water wells from 2010, human rights groups said on Tuesday.

The statement endorsed by 20 organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch further said Jewish settler violence against Palestinians had risen in 2011 and that Israel had sped up its expansion of settler enclaves.

They urged members of the Middle East peacemaking “Quartet” — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — to put pressure on Israel to “reverse its settlement policies and freeze all demolitions that violate international law.”

Quartet representatives were expected in the region again on Wednesday for yet another effort to revive peace talks frozen since last year over settlement construction.

The statement, citing U.N. figures, said Israel had destroyed more than 500 Palestinian homes, wells and other structures in 2011, displacing more than 1,000 people, the greatest number in a single year since 2005.

Settler assaults on Palestinians, including deliberate damage to some privately owned 10,000 olive trees, have also risen to their worst level since 2005, with a 50 percent increase over 2010, and more than a 160 percent increase over 2009, the U.N. figures show. More