As part of the Israeli ongoing practices of occupation, apartheid and de facto annexation of the Jordan Valley and the looming de jure annexation of the area, the Israeli occupation has intensified its violations of human rights against the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khirbet Humsa Al-Fawqa, Northern Jordan Valley. The community has been raided and demolished six times by the Israeli occupation authorities since 4 November 2020.
The cruel policies to expel the 11 Palestinian families residing in Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa from their lands are implemented under the pretext that the community is located in a “firing zone” area, which the Israeli army defined long after the community had been established there.
Notably, Israel has appropriated 18 percent of the West Bank as firing zones, leaving some 6,200 Palestinians living there under threat of forcible displacement. These areas are subjected to Israel’s discriminatory urban planning and licensing permit system, which has made obtaining building permits for residential and commercial structures in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, nearly impossible.
On March 18, over 550 Palestinian and international organizations sent a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council demanding that the root causes of the demolitions such as in Humsa must be addressed and Israel’s impunity brought to an end. They stated:
“By systematically designing and implementing policies of displacement and dispossession tailored to forcibly transfer Palestinians, replacing them with Israeli settlers, to maintain Israel’s settler-colonial enterprise and apartheid regime, Israel continues to violate Palestinian rights, including the Palestinian inalienable right to self-determination, and right of return; while continuing to enjoy an unlawful culture of impunity.”
In its latest report on Palestine “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution”, Human Rights Watch found that:
“Israel’s coercive policies in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank amount to intentional forcible transfer of civilians within an occupied territory, defined as “the movement of individuals under duress from where they reside to a place that is not of their choosing,”a grave breach of the laws of war. The Rome Statute states that forcible transfer can occur “directly or indirectly,” through coercive circumstances as well as direct force, and defines it, when carried out in a widespread or systematic manner, as a state policy, as a crime against humanity and one of the kinds of inhumane acts that make up the crime of apartheid.”
The Israeli violations of human rights in Humsa are based on data collected by Stop the Wall, Al Haq and UN OCHA.
- Since the beginning of March: the Israeli occupation have restricted access to water for the residents by confiscating their water tanks and the tractors that transport the water. Denying the community access to water is a coercive measure of forcible displacement. The Israeli occupation denies the Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley access to piped water, refusing to connect them to the water grid Israel’s national water carrier Mekorot has built for the illegal settlements. The communities there, including Humsa, depend on water brought to them in big water tanks. The water, which the residents buy from Areas ‘A’ and ‘B’, is usually transported in their tractors as the Israeli occupation prohibits Palestinians there to pave their roads.
- February 22 2021: Israeli bulldozers and armed soldiers raided Humsa, and confiscated another 18 residential and animal structures. In addition to food parcels and unassembled structures, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) also confiscated all water tanks, leaving the community with no drinking water or water for their livestock.
- February 16: armed Israeli soldiers and the ICA stormed Humsa and confiscated five donor-funded tents, even as the EU staff that brought the tents was still present. Over the first weeks of February the community has had 62 structures demolished in three incidents, leaving 60 people, including 35 children displaced.
- February 14: armed Israeli soldiers, ICA and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection raided Humsa again, including the residents who built a few kilometers away from the demolition site. The Israeli soldiers and officers took pictures of the area, mainly from helicopters. They also attacked the residents of the community and threatened them with another raid of demolition if they do not move to Ein Shebleh, the place to which the Israeli forces want to transfer the community of Humsa.
- February 8: Israeli military confiscated or demolished 16 residential and animal structures. Two were donated by the consortium of European governmental aid agencies to offer humanitarian support to Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer in the West Bank. They also confiscated other emergency shelters provided by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS).
- February 3: residents and Palestinian grassroots activists tried to rebuild the tents that are the homes of the people of Humsa; yet, the Israeli army violently attacked them, confiscated the building materials and their cars, effectively trapping them in the community. The owners had to pay a large amount of money to the Israeli military to have their cars returned. The building material was never returned.
- February 1: tens of armed Israeli soldiers, officers of the ICA and four JCB bulldozers stormed Humsa and demolished and confiscated 62 structures leaving 60 people sleep between the sky and the ground. During the demolition, the Israeli occupation besieged the community and blocked any entrance to the media and, popular activists and human rights organizations to reach the area. According to the testimonies recorded from the people of Humsa, Israeli soldiers threatened to shoot anyone who tries to resist the destruction/confiscation of their homes. The Israeli soldiers took the confiscated tents to an area called Ein Shebleh, where they plan to transfer the community. Yet, the residents of Humsa refused this proposal as Humsa is their ancestral land which they refuse to give up on. The people of Humsa are also aware that Ein Shebleh is already inhabited by other Palestinians. Palestinians there are subject to systematic violence committed by fanatic Israeli settlers as it is another target for settlement expansion.
- November 3 2020: the Israeli occupying authorities conducted what was described by Yvonne Helle, the Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for the occupied Palestinian territory as “the largest forced displacement incident in over four years,” leaving 72 protected Palestinians, 38 of which are children, homeless, amidst a global pandemic.
- The Palestinian residents of Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa and their houses and other structures of Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa were demolished and confiscated by the Israeli occupation in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020, and now in 2021.