Britain, Germany Condemn Israeli Demolition of Palestinian Homes
Britain and Germany added their voices to growing international condemnation of Israel Tuesday over the demolition of Palestinian homes near Jerusalem, saying the destruction was "particularly egregious".
The five European Union members of the UN Security Council, which also include France, Belgium and Poland, released a statement following a council meeting on the Middle East.
"We as member states of the European Union strongly condemn the demolition by Israel of Palestinian buildings in the district of Wadi al Hummus, in the south east of Jerusalem," they said.
"In all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolition in occupied territories is contrary to International Humanitarian Law and to UNSC resolutions," the statement added.
The EU countries said demolitions cause "unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and is harmful to the peace process."
Israel said on Tuesday that a total of 12 Palestinian buildings it considered illegally constructed were demolished in Monday's controversial operation.
Israel says the homes 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.
But the five EU countries -- plus Estonia which is a forthcoming EU member of the Security Council -- described the demolitions as "particularly egregious."
They noted that several of the buildings were located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
"They set a dangerous precedent that directly jeopardizes the two state solution," the statement read.
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.
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.
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.