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Home Demolitions in Palestine Hit 'Highest Number in Five Years'

As peace negotiations go on, aid groups call on Israeli government to halt all demolitions

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Israeli municipality workers use a mechanical digger to demolish a house belonging to a Palestinian family in the Arab east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, on February 5, 2014 (AFP/ Ahmad Gharabli)The demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories by the Israeli government has hit an alarming five-year high, aid groups warned in a statement issued Friday.

"In light of the alarming trends, we the undersigned local and international faith, aid, development, and human rights organizations call again for an immediate halt to the demolitions of Palestinian homes, and for Israel to facilitate immediate, full and unimpeded humanitarian access so that aid can reach people in need," read the statement released by the 25 aid organizations including Oxfam and Christian Aid.

As the groups pointed out, since peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders began in July 2013, the number of demolitions of Palestinian homes by the Israeli state nearly doubled, and the amount of Palestinians displaced in the process increased by nearly three-quarters.

"Of the 663 Palestinian structures torn down last year, the highest number in five years, 122 were built with international donor aid," Reuters adds.

Additionally, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced Thursday it will no longer be delivering tents to Palestinians who have been rendered homeless as a result of the demolitions due to ongoing measures to obstruct and confiscate Red Cross aid by the Israeli government.

"We're suspending the distribution of tents and shelter materials because we have seen a pattern of obstacles and confiscations since the beginning of 2013," said Jon Martin Larsen, a spokesman for the ICRC.

"International and local aid organizations have faced increasingly severe restrictions in responding to the needs created by the unlawful demolition of civilian property, in violation of Israel's obligation to facilitate the effective delivery of aid," the groups said in their statement.

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