For Palestinian residents of Khirbet Ibziq, the Jordan Valley, the end of 2021 was a tragic one. Eleven families cannot help but recall the moment when Israeli soldiers invaded their community, announced it a closed military zone and demolished their property on December 28.
Forty structures- residntial tents and animal shacks were razed to the ground.
Six of the targeted families were watching Israeli bulldozers while reducing their homes to rubble. The five other families were forced to hold a hammer and self-demolish their own homes with the same hands that once built them.
Israel, which cultivates an environmentally-friendly image of itself across the world also demolished the solar panels upon which the families depend to generate electricity; in addition to the confiscation of their water tanks, their only source of income.
The residents said that the Israeli occupation forces prevented them from taking some of their property before bulldozing their homes like clothes, furniture, children’s toys and food.
Refusing to be homeless amid the cold winter weather, six of the families rebuilt their homes.
Yesterday, the Israeli occupation raided Ibziq again and demolished the rebuilt residential tents. This means that the families had to endure a brutal Israeli demolition campaign twice within a week.
Khirbet Ibziq: A military training zone
At the moment of demolition on December 28, the residents of Ibziq were also watching hundreds of Israeli soldiers along with more than 150 military jeeps and tanks while doing military trainings on their land.
Khirbet Ibziq, a community of 45 families (around 200 people) is one of the communities in the Jordan Valley in which the Israeli occupation forces do military trainings on a regular basis.
Since the start of December, the same families whose homes were demolished on December 28, 2021 and on January 4, 2022 had to leave their homes for weeks, for Israeli soldiers occupied their homes to do military trainings.
With their children, the families roamed the mountains of the Jordan Valley waiting for the Israeli army to leave so that they could return to their homes.
Military trainings in Ibziq usually take place for six months throughout the year. When Palestinians return back to their homes after Israeli soldiers are finished with the trainings, they find remains of shells and weapons. The remains of shells pose a threat to the lives of people there, especially children.
During the military trainings, Israeli soldiers also destroyed large swathes of the community’s agricultural land, roughly 400 dunams have been damaged so far. This is a big economic loss for a community that depends on agriculture as a primary source of income, in addition to animal husbandry.
Under apartheid, ethnic cleansing is legitimized
The existence of Palestinians in Ibziq, which is adjacent to Israel’s Apartheid Wall is criminalized. The Israeli occupation classifies its 45 dunams as a closed military area. Therefore, construction is deemed illegal under Israeli apartheid laws.
Due to prohibition of construction, generations in Ibziq have been denied access to proper education due to the absence of schools close to where the community lives. The only nearby school is an old building with a limited number of classes that do not suffice for all the children in the area.
Prohibition of construction and demolition of Palestinian property are an effective Israeli tool to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homes.
The community of Khirbet Humsa Al-Fawqa in the Northern Jordan Valley was entirely expelled following a malicious Israeli demolition campaign that started in November 2020 and continued until July 2021. Israel stopped this campaign only after the residents of Humsa were forced to relocate in another area in the Jordan Valley after days of siege, where they were denied access to water and food.
According to UN OCHA, the Israeli occupation authorities demolished 901 buildings in the West Bank during 2021. In 2022, which started only five days ago, the Israeli occupation demolished 12 structures in Area ‘C’ and East Jerusalem.