Israel Destroys and Seizes Structures in Khirbet Humsa, Leaving Over 30 Palestinian Minors Without a Roof

The EU representative in Jerusalem warns that the 73 residents ordered to leave their homes by the civil administration are 'facing the danger of forced transfer'

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
The Israeli civil administration in Khirbet Humsa on Wednesday
The Israeli civil administration in Khirbet Humsa on WednesdayCredit: B'Tselem
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Israel's Civil Administration demolished and confiscated most of the structures in Palestinian village of Khirbet Humsa in the northern Jordan Valley, in the second massive operation in the last three months at the site. The Civil Administration ordered the 73 residents of the village, half of whom are children, to move a few kilometers to the west.

On Wednesday evening, the army declared the area a closed military zone, detaining Palestinian activists who arrived there and preventing them and residents of the community from re-erecting tents and sheep pens.

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The European Union’s mission in Jerusalem announced Wednesday that senior diplomats representing itself and various countries would visit the site on Thursday. The announcement said Khirbet Humsa "has again, witnessed a mass demolition and seizure of livelihood and agricultural structures that is described as the largest in the West Bank in years. This time community is facing an immediate threat of forcible transfer."

The residents of Khirbet Humsa were offered to move to temporary alternative sites because the present location is in Firing Zone 903 (comprising 80,000 dunams of the lands of the Palestinian villages in the northern West Bank), according to two recent statements from the spokesman’s office for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

The demolition of the village last NovemberCredit: B'Tselem/Sarit Michaeli

According to COGAT, “Civil Administration staff explained to the Palestinian residents the risks involved in remaining in the firing zone.” The COGAT announcement from Monday also said that the residents agreed to leave on their own with the aid of the supervision unit,” and that the demolition and confiscation were carried out “according to the authority and procedures because the tent compounds were constructed without permits.”

Resident of Khirbet Humsa said the “commander of the Civil Administration in the area” (whose name they didn’t mention) was present at the site during the confiscation on Monday, met with every family and told them that they must leave the site within 24 hours. On Monday, the bulldozers and employees of the Civil Administration did not demolish all the structures and left a few of them standing.

The residents were also told that if they moved 15 kilometers to the west, to the village of Ein Shibli, their confiscated belongings would be returned to them. The confiscated goods were transferred to the Beka’ot checkpoint, which the road to Ein Shibli passes through. When the residents did not arrive to take them – they were sent to Civil Administration warehouses. On Wednesday, the Civil Administration began again to demolish and confiscate the rest of the structures, after the residents refused to evacuate.

Two settlements – Beka’ot to the south and Ro’i to the north – are built very close to Khirbet Humsa.

On November 3, 2020, the Civil Administration in the West Bank demolished most of the housing structures and sheep pens of Khirbet Humsa. The residents, with Palestinian and international aid, rebuilt part of the ruins and rebuilt sheep pens, tents and the rest of the structures.

The UN bureau for humanitarian coordination said Monday that 25 structures were impounded, including 17 funded by donor nations. Eight families, numbering 55 people including 32 children, lost the roofs over their heads. Another three families, numbering 18 people, also suffered from the confiscation and demolition action.

The families are originally from the village of Samu’a in the southern Hebron Hills. They started moving to the northern Jordan Valley beginning in the 1970s when military bans and Israeli construction near Samu’a and Yatta shrunk the size of grazing lands, making access to them and water sources more difficult. In 1948, the families from Samu’a already lost a large chunk of their land that was left on the Israeli side of the Green Line.

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