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UN relief chief urges end to Israeli policies of eviction and demolitions

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The top United Nations humanitarian official today urged Israel to end its evictions policy after visiting communities in East Jerusalem where residents have been forced from their homes to make way f

The top United Nations humanitarian official today urged Israel to end its evictions policy after visiting communities in East Jerusalem where residents have been forced from their homes to make way for Israeli settlements, even as other residents face the prospect of having their houses and schools demolished.

“This morning I heard about yet more communities at risk of displacement, the Bedouins of Wadi Abu Hindi and the residents of Al Walaja,” said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, on the last of her four-day mission to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

“I hope following my discussions with the Israeli authorities, that they will look carefully at the key humanitarian concerns of demolitions and displacement in the West Bank,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

She visited communities in Area C of the West Bank, which remains under Israeli military control and where many communities are isolated by the barrier. She also visited the town of Sderot in Israel.

Ms. Amos met with Palestinian and Israeli officials as well as affected Palestinians and humanitarian organizations. She said she had been struck by the fact that everyone she spoke to – both Palestinian and Israeli – wanted the same objective: the right to live normal lives in peace and security.

During a visit to a protected children’s play-centre in Sderot, Ms. Amos heard of the fears and uncertainty of the local community who have been targeted in rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip. She condemned the indiscriminate use of violence, which she said had to stop.

On Gaza, Ms Amos said that the Israeli blockade had resulted in a stifling of economic activity and a serious decline in education, health care and water and sanitation services in the area. An estimated 1.1 million residents are now dependent on food aid.