Photo by NRC at Humsa Al-Bqai’a
The Palestinian herding community of Humsa Al-Bqai’a (Khirbet Hamsa in Hebrew) was demolished yet again by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) on Wednesday, 7th July 2021 following previous demolitions in November 2020 and February 2021.
Israeli authorities argue that it needs this land as a “firing zone” for conducting military training and that this Palestinian community should relocate to Ein Shibli village, an area outside of the Jordan Valley, in the Nablus Governorate. The residents have refused to move on grounds that this amounts to forced displacement which is a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention as is the demolition of their homes and structures vital for living.
On Wednesday the ICA, accompanied by the military, held the residents at gunpoint and told them that they were to get on a bus and leave immediately but they refused. Therefore, the ICA proceeded to demolish a total of 27 structures including homes, animal shelters, and water tanks. All personal belongings were confiscated as were their food supplies and water. The residents were left without even milk for their children or fodder for their 4000 sheep.
Eleven households, comprising around 70 people, including 36 children, were left without shelter in yesterday’s scorching heat that reached 39 degrees C. Included in the demolition was destruction of humanitarian aid that had been provided by donors including NGOs, EU Humanitarian Aid and European countries including the UK.
On 15 April 2021, James Cleverly, UK Foreign Minister stated:
The UK regularly raises the demolition of Palestinian property with the Government of Israel, including over the repeated confiscation and demolition of donor-funded assistance and structures at Humsa al Bqai'a. We continue to monitor the situation in Humsa al Bqai'a closely. Officials from the British Consulate General in Jerusalem most recently visited on 16 February. UK and European UN Security Council members delivered a joint statement on 25 February, calling for unimpeded access for the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to the community. The UK Ambassador alongside European Ambassadors urged an end to demolitions in Humsa Al-Bqai’a in a meeting with Israeli authorities on 25 February. There have been no further demolitions or confiscations in the community since 22 February.
Pressure must continually be exerted on governments stressing that words of condemnation are not enough to stop Israel’s violations. Contact your MP here.