Israeli West Bank Demolitions Reach Four-Year High
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com & National Public Radio & Al Jazeera
(November 4, 2020) — On Tuesday, Israeli authorities carried out the largest single demolition of a Palestinian community in the West Bank in over a decade. The demolition left 73 people homeless, including 41 children.
Some residents suspect the Israelis used the US presidential election as cover to raze the village. “I am 99 percent certain this was taking advantage of the US elections … there were no journalists around,” Yasser Abu al-Kbash, a resident of the village, told NPR. “They bulldozed everything.”
More than 70 structures were destroyed in the village of Khirbet Humsah, a small rural community in the Jordan Valley. Eighteen tents that housed 11 families were destroyed, as well as sheds, livestock enclosures, portable toilets, water containers, and solar panels.
According to numbers from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Tuesday’s demolition was the single largest number of structures destroyed since July 19th, 2010. It was also the largest demolition in four years in terms of the number of Palestinians it displaced.
Before Tuesday’s demolition, the number of Israeli demolitions in occupied territories was already at a four-year high. Between January and September, at least 741 Palestinians have lost their homes. These numbers are the highest figures since 2016 when Israeli bulldozers left 1,496 Palestinians homeless.
This year has also seen a record number of plans approved for Jewish settlements in the West Bank. According to the Israeli NGO Peace Now, plans for 12,159 settler homes have been advanced in 2020, the highest number since President Trump took office in 2017. This year marked the most settlements advanced since Peace Now began recording in 2012.
A Palestinian man collects his belongings after his structure was demolished by Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Oct. 19. (Raneen Sawafta/Reuters)
Israel Uses Cover Of US Election To Destroy Palestinian Homes, Critics Say
(November 4, 2020) — Israeli authorities demolished a rural Palestinian hamlet in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, residents and rights advocates said.
More than 70 structures were destroyed, making it the largest single demolition in the past decade and the biggest forced displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank in over four years, the United Nations said. The statement said 73 people — including 41 children — lived in what it called a “herding community.”
“I am 99% certain this was taking advantage of the US elections. … There were no journalists around,” Yasser Abu al-Kbash, a resident, told NPR. The 48-year-old shepherd said he had lived there all his life. “They bulldozed everything,” he said.
Israel gave lower numbers for the structures destroyed.
Khirbet Humsah, also called Humsah Al Bqai’a, was a small community in tents and shacks located in the Jordan Valley, the agricultural breadbasket of the West Bank that Palestinians claim for a future state. Israeli leaders have talked about seeking to permanently control the area for its strategic value because it borders Jordan.
“A demolition on this scale is extremely rare,” said Amit Gilutz of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that documents and opposes Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. “Everyone’s attention is directed elsewhere.”
Smaller demolitions of Palestinian structures are frequent. This year, Israel broke a four-year record in the number of Palestinians it displaced by destroying their homes, Gilutz said.
The hamlet’s tents, sheds, sheep pens and animal feed were destroyed, as were mobile toilets and a solar panel funded by Britain, Sweden and other European Union countries, he said.
The Israeli Defense Ministry’s agency that oversees Palestinian civilian affairs, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, said authorities demolished seven tents and eight animal pens built illegally in a military firing range. It did not return a request for comment about the timing of Tuesday’s operation.
“The enforcement was carried out in accordance with the authorities and procedures, and subject to operational considerations,” the Israeli agency said in a statement.
Abu al-Kbash said the area is used for agriculture and is only rarely used by Israel for military exercises.
A Palestinian aid group has provided tents as temporary shelter for the residents who lost their homes, but al-Kbash said they were not sufficient for the village’s families, including children. He said villagers were now sleeping on the rubble of their destroyed shacks.
“Our bed is the ground. Our roof is the sky,” he said. “We hope people will come and see our situation. They will see that Israel, which pretends to be a compassionate country, is chasing us.”
Israeli Army Razes Entire Village in Occupied West Bank
Israeli forces razed 18 tents that housed 11 families in the northern village of Khirbet Humsa.
Bulldozers Demolish Entire Palestinian Village , Leaving 74 People, Including 41 Minors, Homeless.
(November 4, 2020) — Israel’s army has demolished homes of nearly 80 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Eighteen tents that housed 11 families in the northern village of Khirbet Humsa were razed late on Tuesday.
A total of 74 people were displaced, more than half of which were minors, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli anti-occupation non-government organisation.
The bulldozers and diggers also demolished sheds used as livestock enclosures, portable toilets, water containers and solar panels, on top of confiscating vehicles and tractors belonging to some of the residents.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the international community to intervene against Israeli troops’ attempt to “displace the citizens of Khirbet Humsa and tens of similar communities from their homes and lands”, pointing to the fact that Israel “chose this evening to commit another crime” as the attention is focused on the United States presidential election.
Abdelghani Awada, left homeless by the operation, told the AFP news agency that the Israelis gave people “10 minutes to evacuate our homes”.
“Then, they started bulldozing,” he said.
He said his family had lived in the area for generations and accused Israel of trying to “empty the Jordan Valley of its Palestinian population”.
The late-night operation was unusual given that so many homes were targeted at the same time, according to B’Tselem.
“Clearly, the intention is to force residents off the land by creating a man-made humanitarian disaster. But residents have told us they have nowhere to go,” said on Twitter Sarit Michaeli, international advocacy officer for the B’Tselem, adding that this was the first demolition in seven years of an entire herder community.
The branch of Israel’s army responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, COGAT, said it destroyed structures that were “built illegally in a firing zone (military training area) in the Jordan Valley”.
The Jordan Valley is home to approximately 60,000 Palestinians, according to the UN, but nearly 90 percent of the land is part of what is known as Area C, the three-fifths of the West Bank that is under complete Israeli control.
It includes closed military areas and about 50 agricultural settlements housing some 12,000 Israelis.
Palestinians are barred from those areas and from the lands they own. They are forbidden from digging wells or building any kind of infrastructure without hard-to-get military permits.
Anything built without a permit, from home extensions to tents, animal pens and irrigation networks, is at risk of demolition by the Israeli military [Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP]
From 2009 to 2016, less than two percent of more-than-3,300 permit applications in Area C were successful, according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group, citing official statistics.
Anything built without a permit, from home extensions to tents, animal pens and irrigation networks, is at risk of demolition by the Israeli military.
Almost 800 Palestinians, including 404 minors, have already lost their homes in 2020.
Throughout the entire previous year, 677 lost their homes, up from 387 in 2018 and 521 in 2017.
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