Israel Razes Homes of Dozens of Palestinian Families in Jordan Valley Village

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Village residents at the time of the demolition
Village residents at the time of the demolitionCredit:
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

Israel tore down on Wednesday the dwellings of about 60 Palestinians in Khirbet Humsah, a village in the Jordan Valley, and confiscated their property.

There have been two previous demolition campaigns in the past year in the village, which is located in an area that Israel has declared a military firing zone.

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The villagers, who had been living in tents, said that the Civil Administration loaded the remains of their tents and equipment into trucks and hauled them away.

Local children after their homes were razed in Khirbet HumsahCredit:

"Little children sitting under the blazing sun, what did they do to Israel? A young boy who gets heatstroke is a terrorist?" Yasser Abu al-Kabash, one of the residents whose home was destroyed, asked Haaretz. "They took everything we had," he added.

The Israel Defense Forces denied entry to the site to humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

According to B'Tselem, about 2,700 people live in about 20 herding communities in or in the vicinity of areas in the Jordan Valley that have been defined as firing zones.

The people of Khirbet Humsah support themselves mainly by raising sheep. They are originally from a-Samu, a village in the southern West Bank, and began migrating to the northern Jordan Valley in the 1970s, after their grazing land or access to it was reduced, and their water sources blocked as a result of settlement construction and prohibitions issued by the military.

In 1948, a few of the village's families lost much of their land, which was on the other side of the pre-1967 demarcation line. The Civil Administration recently offered to move the residents of Khirbet Humsah to an alternative location that is not in a firing zone, but they refused. In February, after most of the structures in the village were destroyed, residents told Haaretz that officials told them that if they moved 15 kilometers (9 miles) to the west, to the village of Ein Shibli, their confiscated belongings would be returned.

In response to Wednesday's demolitions, lawmaker Mossi Raz of Meretz sent Defense Minister Benny Gantz a letter in which he said the same policy was carried out in other areas as well. "The state is acting even more forcefully to continue to forcibly move these communities and to shake off its fundamental humanitarian responsibility for them," Raz wrote.

In a written response, the Civil Administration said that security forces carried out enforcement activity in Khirbet Humsah, in accordance with a High Court of Justice ruling. "The activity included demolishing and seizing tents that again had been illegally erected by Palestinians who invaded the firing range in the Jordan Valley in 2012," the statement said.

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