Days after STW has called upon supporters to write to their diplomatic misions, on November 23 diplomats from 7 European representative offices have visited al Hadidiye. They have seen the precarious living conditions now threatened by demolition orders affecting 72 people. They have heard testimonies from al Hadidiye and received a background briefing on the Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley. (See below.)
In the meanwhile, on November 17 the legal defense of the people of Al Hadidiye has started the process of asking permission for the construction of the homes built by the residents on their own land.
The demolition orders will be executive not as previously reported on November 18 but on December 5.
Stop the Wall Campaign thanks all those that have participated at the letter writing campaign to save al Hadidiye. Your action can make a difference!
Keep alerted for further action updates.
Al Hadidiye in its context
The current demolition orders
On Thursday November 10, the community has received the demolition orders, which will be executive on December 5. They mandate the destruction of 17 structures which will adversely affect 72 people including women and children. In an attempt to at least delay the demolition, on November 17 the legal defense of the people of Al Hadidiye has started the process of asking permission for the construction of the homes built by the residents on their own land. As has been denounced by many human rights and UN organizations, the Israeli authorities are enacting a systematic, multi-layered policy of forced displacement against the Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley. These orders are part of this policy. Many of the families in Al-Hadidiye have already suffered several home and property demolitions which are in clear violation of international law and human rights.
The background of al Hadidiye
Some 112 people live in al-Hadidiya on a permanent basis, all of them outside the boundaries of the closed military area. According to the community spokesperson, another 120 people live in Al Hadidiya on a seasonal basis during the winter, including some 90 people who live within the closed military area. Al-Hadidiya is a Bedouin community relying on herding. Some community members report having born in this location in the 1950s, but community members have been displaced multiple times. The community estimates that about 40 families have been permanently displaced from Al-Hadidiya since 1997 due to a combination of factors, primarily demolitions, confiscations and access restrictions. In May 2009, the IDF placed large cement slabs throughout the Jordan Valley, including Al Hadidiya, that have “Danger Firing Zone Entrance Forbidden” in Arabic, English and Hebrew. However, the community has reported not noticing military activity in their immediate vicinity.
History of displacement:
· In 1997, three to four families left the community after they experienced wide-scale demolitions by the Israeli authorities. In addition, water tankers were also turned over or confiscated for months at a time.
· In 2000, over 15 families left due to measures imposed by the Israeli army that limited the community’s access to water. For example, according to the community representative, tractors and water tankers were confiscated on the grounds that they were located in a ‘forbidden zone.’ One water tanker was confiscated for eight months and only released when residents paid a NIS 12,000 fine.
· In 2002 and 2003, some eight families left the community after the Israeli army dug a trench to the west of Al Hadidiya, impeding residents’ access to food, water and basic services. A few of the families sold their sheep and moved to Tamun, which is located in Area A. These families now survive as paid laborers or rely on their children, who are herders. Others went to the Khirbet Atuf area and continued herding.
· Between 2003 and 2008, approximately eight families left for different reasons namely, additional demolitions by the Israeli authorities, which occurred between 2005 and 2007, and the installation of a road gate to the west of the community, affecting the community’s access to water.
· In 2008, four additional families left the community following demolitions.
· In June 2011, following OCHA’s interview with the Al Hadidiya representative, the Israeli authorities carried out two sets of demolitions in Al Hadidiya, demolishing 33 structures, leaving 37 residents without homes and undermining the livelihood of a further 15. Most of these, 29, were demolished on 21 June 2011.
The “relocation” of the Palestinians from Area C
The Jordan Valley covers nearly 30 percent of the total territory of the occupied West Bank. Nearly all of the Jordan Valley falls into Area C, which under the Oslo accords is under full Israeli military control. In addition, over three-quarters of the Jordan Valley has been declared closed military zones, state land or nature reserves, and is thereby off-limits for the area’s Palestinian residents. The Palestinians who reside here face constant threats and violence from the IDF and the illegal settlers.
Since the onset of its occupation in 1967, the Government of Israel has implemented a range of measures that restrict Palestinians’ use of land and resources in the occupied Palestinian territory. One of the primary ways Israel has done this has been through the application of restrictive planning and zoning regimes to Palestinian communities.
Such restrictions continue to be prevalent in the over 60 percent of the West Bank that was classiï¬ed as Area C in the Oslo accords of the 1990s. Under the planning regime applied by the ICA, Palestinian construction is eï¬ectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C, or approximately 44 percent of the West Bank, in areas that have been largely designated for the use of Israeli setlements or the Israeli military. In the remaining 30 percent of Area C (approximately 18 percent of the West Bank), there are a range of other restrictions that greatly reduce the possibility of obtaining a building permit.
Israeli occupation authorities officially declare the ongoing policy
Already in July UN OCHA reported that Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) informed OCHA about its intention to ‘relocate’ Bedouin communities from strategic areas throughout Area C, with priority given to those spread in the Jerusalem periphery. This came amidst a sharp increase in demolitions since the beginning of the year, during which, 387 Palestinian structures were demolished due to lack of permit and 755 people were displaced (as of 31 July). This is more than twice the number of people displaced and a 40 percent increase in structures demolished compared to the equivalent figures in 2010. Over a third of the structures demolished in 2011 were located in Bedouin communities.
The total Palestinian population of Area C is estimated at around 150,000, two-thirds of whom live in localities which are partly located in Area A and B, and one-third in communities located entirely in Area C. Of those living entirely in Area C, approximately 18,500 live in small, sedentary villages and 27,500 reside in Bedouin and other herding communities, many in remote areas.
The announcement of this plan was followed in September by the publication of the Prawer Report, which envisions the displacement of some 20 000 – 30 000 Palestinians from the Bedouin communities in the Negev/Naqab to other areas.
International obligation to act
Home demolitions of this kind are in direct contravention with international law as under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs occupied territories, an occupying power may carry out total or partial “evacuation” of an area only if “the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.” Furthermore Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention says “destruction” by the Occupying Power of private property is prohibited unless “absolutely necessary” in military operations. The Israeli occupation authorities have given no justification that abided by these laws and continue to arbitrarily destroy their homes which contravenes Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), among other treaties to which Israel is a party, and which prohibits arbitrary or unlawful state interference with anyone’s home.
The ongoing – and officially declared – policy of forced displacements of dozens of thousands of Palestinians from a major part of the Palestinian territory amount to a full scale war crime under the IV Geneva convention.
The international community has a clear obligation to act to prevent war crimes, such as this.
It is therefore highly concerning that the European Union and its member states have not taken any appropriate action to comply with their obligations. While actions undertaken in particular cases have provided some delay or alleviation of the displacement policies, an effective and urgent response is needed to stop the planned and systematic forced displacement of the Palestinian population.
We thank the diplomatic missions that have participated in the delegation today and hope this field visit and diplomatic action taken through the appropriate channels will allow to stop the demolition of further homes in Al Hadidiye now, at the beginning of the winter months.
However, we are aware that only a determined overall response that lives up to the gravity of the violations of international law and human rights committed by Israel can bring mid- or long-term redress to the situation. We are therefore hoping that this trip can stimulate more discussion on a general change of policy by the European Union in front of these war crimes, including:
· The complete ban on companies (and their products) involved in the settlements
· The immediate suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement based on its Human Rights clause in Article 2.
Stop the Wall field research