Israel destroys homes in Humsa Al-Bqai’a Bedouin community

The Israeli authorities must immediately halt attempts to forcibly transfer around 70 Palestinians, including 35 children, the Norwegian Refugee Council said today, after bulldozers demolished all of the community’s property.

Israeli forces have deployed military vehicles to the Humsa al-Bqai’a Bedouin community in the north of the Jordan Valley, declaring it a “closed military area”, while blocking access for international observers from the diplomatic and humanitarian communities.

The bulldozers destroyed an estimated eight residential shelters, four livelihood structures, and agricultural equipment. This was the seventh destruction that the community has faced since November 2020, when Israeli forces carried out the single largest demolition incident in recent years. Under international law, an occupying power is strictly prohibited from transferring members of the occupied population from their existing communities against their will.

“The Israeli forces have yet again destroyed the lives of families in Humsa and are now forcing them out of their homes,” said Caroline Ort, GHFT Palestine country director. “The international community must resolutely condemn this dispossession and show that it will not tolerate these brazen breaches of international law. The Israeli authorities must immediately grant humanitarian access to the community to meet their urgent needs.”

The Humsa community remain at heightened risk of being forcibly transferred to Ein Shibli village, 15 kilometres away, where Israel has already transferred some of the community’s belongings. The community wants to stay on their land and has rejected previous plans to relocate them. The Humsa community lies in the path of the nearby expanding illegal settlements of Beqa’ot and Ro’i.

“The demolitions are the latest in an unrelenting show of force by the Israeli authorities, who have destroyed at least 421 structures belonging to Palestinians in the first six months of 2021 alone. This marks a 30 per cent rise in demolitions for the same period in 2020,”said Ort.

Last year, the Israeli authorities demolished 848 Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem – a 36 per cent increase compared to 2019.

The Humsa Al-Bqai’a community has received material assistance from the West Bank Protection Consortium, a strategic partnership of five international NGOs led by the Norwegian Refugee Council, 11 European donors, and EU Humanitarian Aid, formed to prevent the forcible transfer of Palestinians in the West Bank.

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