The European Union has called upon Israel to stop the demolition of Palestinian residential structures in the occupied Jordan Valley. The call came after Israeli forces destroyed the Palestinian Bedouin community in the occupied West Bank village of Khirbet Humsah last week for the second time in three months, leaving several families homeless.
"This large-scale demolition is another example of the deplorable trend of confiscation and destruction," said Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, representative of the EU in the Palestinian territories.
EU spokesperson Peter Steno also criticised the illegal demolition and called on Israel to halt the practice. "Confiscation, demolition of structures in Hamsa al-Foqa & dislocation of around 60 people confirm regrettable trend despite #COVID19 & obligations of [Israel] as occupying power under [international] humanitarian law," he wrote on Twitter.
Israel Palestine: Confiscation,demolition of structures in Hamsa al-Foqa & dislocation of around 60 people confirm regrettable trend despite #COVID19 & obligations of 🇮🇱 as occupyting power under intl humanitarian law. 🇪🇺 calls to halt this practice https://t.co/8qL0uG4hef
— Peter Stano (@ExtSpoxEU) February 9, 2021
Khirbet Humsah's 130 inhabitants have vowed to stay, with some sleeping on mattresses and plastic tarpaulins on the rocky soil. Tented homes and animal shelters in the village were last razed in November, although residents returned soon after.
"We will not move from here, we will stay here," said Ibrahim Abu Awad. "If they demolish, we will rebuild." He and other Bedouin in the village said that their fear is that Israeli settlers will seize the vacated land.
In a press release last week, Israeli rights group B'Tselem said that the demolition at Khirbet Humsah was "unusually broad". The organisation accused Israel of seeking "to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities in order to take over their land."
B'Tselem, which last month described Israel as an "apartheid state", pointed out that Israeli occupation forces confiscated "13 tents that were home to 11 families, numbering 74 members, including 41 minors; two of the families had relocated temporarily to the Furush Beit Dajan area after their homes were demolished in November 2020."
Israel's widely practiced home demolitions targeting entire families are acts of illegal collective punishment and are a direct violation of international human rights law.