© MdM

Palestine: demolition of whole Palestinian village

On 3 November 2020, the Israeli Civil Administration entered the bedouin coummunity of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley and demolished 18 tents and sheds that housed 11 families, leaving 74 people in total, 41 of them minors, homeless just as winter starts and in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Médecins Du Monde France Condemns The Demolition Of Whole Palestinian Village Leaving 41 Minors Homeless

The Israeli forces also demolished 29 tents and sheds used as livestock enclosures, three storage sheds, nine tents used as kitchens, 10 portable toilets, 10 livestock pens, 23 water containers, two solar panels, and feeding and watering throughs for livestock. They also destroyed more than 30 tons of fodder for livestock and confiscated a vehicle and two tractors belonging to three residents. Some of the structures, what look to be solar panals and water contariners, which were demolished by Israeli authorities appeared to have been funded by EU states, including France.

Since 1967, Israel has been pursuing a planning and zoning regime aimed at expanding its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While the Israeli civil administration has designated 70% of Area C (44% of the West Bank) for Israeli settlements or military use, only 1% of Area C has been assigned for Palestinian constructions. This has resulted in steady increases of demolitions and displacement of vulnerable Palestinians year on year. To counter this, in late 2014 the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2334 condemning the demolition of homes and displacement of civilians as well as reaffirming that the establishment of settlements in the West Bank "constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” Notwithstanding this state-binding resolution and the reiterated international condemnations, forcible transfers persist while settlements continue to expand.

Médecins du Monde France team responded to the incident, to provide emergency mental health and psychological support to the affected families.

Everything is destroyed, there wasn’t even a small bit of shelter where we could escape the heavy rain to talk with the family.

Hala Abweh, a Social Worker with MdM France in Nablus and who went to the community after the demolition, stated:

‘It was both a difficult day for us and for the community, everything is destroyed, there wasn’t even a small bit of shelter where we could escape the heavy rain to talk with the family. There seems to have been no warning that the demolition would happen, they had no time to rescue their belongings and anything that remained has now been further destroyed by the rain. Women and children are particularly traumatized, with one young teenage girl we intervened with unable to talk, very emotional, and deeply confused by the current situation she finds herself in. Now they are forced to live in crowded structures with relatives, worried for their safety, their sheep, for their homes and their future. We will continue to provide as much psychological support as we can to them in these extremely difficult and traumatic times.’

 

The Israeli Civil Administration entered a Bedouin village in the West Bank and demolished 18 tents and sheds where more than 70 people lived. © MdM
The Israeli Civil Administration entered a Bedouin village in the West Bank and demolished 18 tents and sheds where more than 70 people lived. © MdM

 

 Phillipe de Botton, Président of Médecins du Monde France, also stated: 

‘Despite a global pandemic this year has seen one of the highest records for demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory. 798 Palestinians have lost their homes in 2020, including 404 minors1. Even humanitarian infrastrucure which has been funded by the EU and its member states, appears not to be safe, with water cisterns and pipes and electricity grids being destroyed, which are crucial to sanitation and health at this time.’

The international community has an obligation to remind Israel of its responsibility to protect the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people under international law.

Médecins du Monde MdM has been present in Palestine for over 23 years, and has been addressing the psychological impact of occupation-related violence and forced displacement, in communities such as Khirbet Humsah.

Philippe de Botton added, ‘the international community has an obligation to remind Israel of its responsibility to protect the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people under international law. The unlawful destruction of property and the forcible transfer of protected persons under occupation represent grave breaches and is liable to penal actions.’

‘The international community, especially those who funded the structures that were demolished in this incident, should resort to appropriate measures to bring Israel into compliance with its international obligations, including concrete measures to ensure the application of UNSC Resolution 2334 and demand restitution or compensation from the Government of Israel for the demolition or confiscation of Palestinian property funded by international donors.’

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