Israeli troops accompanied by 10 huge bulldozers, 12 military jeeps and three armoured personnel carriers this morning entered the Palestinian town of Nazlat 'Iza in the northern West Bank and demolished 63 shops.
Two days ago, on the 19th of January, the villagers were informed of the Israeli plan to destroy the structures. The army gave the inhabitants 24 hours notice.
Despite such short notice, Ziyad Salam, the head of the local council, told the Palestine Monitor how, on the morning of the 20th, the inhabitants of the village, "evacuated the buildings and got ready to watch the army destroy the first building. However, with approximately 20 foreign delegates, and with a large press presence, the citizens of the village came out and defended the structures."
He went on to say, "My guess is that the army did not come to destroy the buildings because everyone would see what they were doing and this is the last thing they want. But we know it is inevitable."
And this came true this morning - when about 500 local residents tried once more to defend their property from being attacked and demolished. Accompanied by 20 foreigners, they protested in front of the tanks and other military vehicles. Israeli troops prevented them from approaching the area, and many of the demonstrators sought medical treatment after inhaling tear gas fired by the troops to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the shops.
The properties in Nazlat `Iza have been destroyed as they are on land that Israel is annexing in the construction of the wall (more is available on this topic in the Special Section on the Palestine Monitor's website).
According to Mr. Salam, this is the "latest in a series of Israel measures against the villagers, who have for the past two years been prevented from working in Israel, then due to the draconian closures were prevented from reaching their agricultural land, and now the last means to eke out an existence have also been destroyed."
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi said, "This latest move comes as no surprise. All these actions are parts of a plan to remove Palestinians from areas in the West Bank and Gaza. Basically we are talking about the beginning of a larger plan of ethnic cleansing."