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Demonstration takes place on playground near Qalqiliya, two days before it is due to be demolished

A large protest took place today in the West Bank town of Azzoun against the planned demolition of the children’s playground in the town. 450 protesters came from the local area, the village womens development association and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), who celebrated their 25 year anniversary at the demonstration.

Speeches were given by members of the municipality, the village women’s development association and PARC. Protesters also planted trees in the area to symbolize how although the playground may fall in area C, it is still Palestinian land. Entertainment was provided for the children by local clowns.

The playgrounds construction was near completion when on the morning of February 22nd, 2006, bulldozers accompanied by Israeli soldiers arrived and demolished half of the park – which consisted of two swimming pools and changing rooms.

The justification given by the Israeli army for the demolition was that the park lacked a building permit for that specific ground, an area which falls within Area C, thus under Israeli civil and military control. Building permits for Area C are notoriously unattainable, applicants being denied by the Israeli authorities-run Civil Administration, even when building on private land. In a recent Peace Now report, it was shown that 94% of housing permits have been denied over the last seven years. The Israeli army had, prior to the demolition, given orders to stop the building several times, but despite that, the village decided to continue, strengthened by the knowledge that the building was taking place on Palestinian land.

An Israeli layer is still fighting the case, and is awaiting an interim decision on the appeal. If the town loses the appeal, they have promised to take the case to the supreme court.