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The Israeli military demolished two Palestinian houses in the West Bank on Thursday because they were built without permits, according to witnesses and the military.

The 13 members of the Al-Shawamreh family, including nine children, were ordered out of the houses at dawn before earthmovers moved in to destroy the two cement structures and a well, family members said.

“They didn’t give us enough time to evacuate everything,” Mohammed al-Shawamreh told AFP as relatives and neighbours dug through the rubble.

Israel has destroyed more than two dozen homes inhabited by more than 130 people in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year, according to the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD), a human rights group.

Most were built without the required permits from the military, which Palestinians and human rights groups say are extremely difficult to obtain.

The demolition of houses, particularly in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, has infuriated the Western-backed Palestinian leadership, which says it undermines efforts to revive the peace process.

Three homes were destroyed in east Jerusalem on Wednesday, drawing US and international condemnation ahead of the latest visit by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who was to meet with Israeli officials on Thursday. AFP

Photo: Members of the Al-Shawamreh family surround their house after it was demolished by the Israeli military in the West Bank village of Abu al-Arqan.

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