Dozens displaced in largest demolition in a decade in the West Bank

Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad
Share by

| Palestinians abroad |

The EU said the devastating impact is particularly harsh on children, women, and families, and is in "clear violation of international law and basic human rights."

Seventy-three people, including 41 children have been displaced after Israeli authorities demolished their homes and other structures, and destroyed belongings in the Palestinian community of Humsa Al Bqai’a in the West Bank, the UN humanitarian wing (OCHA) has reported.

Some 76 structures were demolished, on Tuesday, more than in any other single demolition in the past decade, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The destroyed properties – including homes, animal shelters, latrines and solar panels – were essential to livelihoods, wellbeing and dignity of community members, whose rights have been violated, Yvonne Helle, Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement this week.

Heads of Mission and representatives from the EU, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, visited the Humsa Al Bqai’a community near Tubas in the Jordan Valley.

Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney said Tel Aviv’s actions were a “disgraceful and illegal abuse of Palestinian families in their own lands” by Israeli authorities.

“Their vulnerability is further compounded by the onset of winter and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Helle said, adding that some of the demolished structures had been donated as humanitarian assistance. 

According to OCHA, so far in 2020, 689 structures have been demolished across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, more than in any full year since 2016, leaving 869 Palestinians homeless. 

The lack of “Israeli-issued building permits” is typically cited as a reason, even though, due to the “restrictive and discriminatory planning regime,” Palestinians can almost never obtain such permits, said Helle. 

“Demolitions are a key means of creating an environment designed to coerce Palestinians to leave their homes.”

SOME OF THE MOST VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES

Located in the Jordan Valley, Humsa Al Bqai’a is one of 38 Bedouin and herding communities partially or fully located within areas declared as “firing zones” by Israel for military training.

They are some of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank, with limited access to education and health services, and to water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure, OCHA says.

“Such actions not only are in breach of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, they also put into question Israel’s commitment towards the two-state solution,” said the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.

“In line with the EU’s long-standing position on Israel’s settlement policy, illegal under international law, and actions are taken in that context, such as forcible transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, the EU, again, urges the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian structures.”

In her statement, Helle reminded that the “extensive destruction of property and the forcible transfer of protected people in an occupied territory are grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“While assuring that the humanitarian community stands ready to support all those who have been displaced or otherwise affected, I strongly reiterate our call to Israel to immediately halt unlawful demolitions.”

The EU has repeatedly called for the restitution or compensation of EU-funded humanitarian assets which have been demolished, dismantled, or confiscated by Israel, von Burgsdorff added.
 
Source: The news was first published by The South African, along with the cover photo.

Follow us