So far during February the Bedouin community of Humsa Al Bqai’a (Khirbet Hamsa) located in the north part of the Jordan Valley has been demolished five times – on the 1st, 8th, 14th, 16th and 22nd. This is the same village that was demolished on 3 November during the largest mass demolition in the previous ten years, and when the eyes of the world were on the US Presidential election. Israel is determined to clear more parts of Area C, forcibly displacing the indigenous Palestinian population, and reserving it for Israeli use following its settler-colonial policy to take as much land as possible in historic Palestine.
According to Stop the Wall, a Palestinian grassroots organisation, on 1st February, tens of armed Israeli soldiers accompanied four British-made JCB bulldozers that reduced the entire village of Humsa to rubble. While Palestinians were trying to rebuild their demolished community, the Israeli army arrived. They confiscated the building materials and demolished the tents provided to the residents of Humsa from the International Red Cross.
After each subsequent demolition, humanitarian aid was provided, including from the EU and UK, but the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) continued to return with bulldozers causing more destruction and with the aid confiscated.
On 22nd February, when the ICA came again to Humsa, it confiscated 18 residential and animal structures as well as food parcels. This incident occurred just before the arrival of staff from consulates representing Canada, Spain, and Belgium. The community was left with no drinking water for the residents nor for their animals. Most of the structures had been provided following Israel’s violations earlier in February in which 37 structures were demolished or confiscated. Ten households, comprising over 60 people, including 36 children, were again displaced and are at heightened risk of forcible transfer.
Palestinians from the Bedouin community of Humsa Al Bqai’a and representatives of popular committees right across the West Bank have sent a call to solidarity groups around the world asking that more pressure be put on the Israeli government to stop the imminent ethnic cleansing of Humsa. A similar call has also gone out from the United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Its Coordinator Lynn Hastings visited Humsa on 23rd February and issued a statement saying that the recent Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and evacuation of local residents and confiscation of their lands contravened international law and were all in flagrant violation of human rights law. Hastings demanded Israel allow humanitarian agencies to provide shelter, food and water to the Palestinian communities living in Area C, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank.
According to OCHA, so far in 2021 within the West Bank, Israeli authorities have demolished, seized, or forced people to demolish at least 227 Palestinian-owned structures, including 93 that were donor-funded, displacing 367 people, including some 200 children. This represents a near 185 per cent increase in structures targeted and a near 450 per cent increase in donor-funded structures targeted, compared with the equivalent period in 2020.
The demolitions have drawn widespread condemnation against the Israeli authorities for exploiting the coronavirus crisis to press ahead with its campaign of razing Palestinian homes. The latest press release sent out on 24th February on behalf of Protecting Palestinian Families and ICAHD UK was not picked up.
Please spread awareness where you live and write to your MP. Participate in our campaign against the use of British-made JCB bulldozers in demolishing Palestinian homes. Information and guidance are provided here.