Demolition of Bedouin village Khirbet Humsa in Jordan Valley "military firing zone" leaves dozens homeless.
Israel has demolished the Bedouin village of Khirbet Humsa, in the occupied West Bank, leaving dozens of residents of the herding community homeless for at least the fifth time this year.
At least 65 people, including 35 children, were displaced on Wednesday, according to Christopher Holt of the West Bank Protection Consortium, a group of international aid agencies supported by the European Union that has helped residents' rebuilding effort in the past.
Holt, who was in the area, said the army arrived without warning at 0600 GMT (9 am local), asked the residents to move, and when they refused, began flattening their homes and farming equipment in what he called “a very serious escalation.”
Animal shelters, latrines, solar panels and water containers in the village were demolished alongside makeshift homes belonging to eleven families.
The Israeli government, now run by a coalition headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, says the village was built illegally in the middle of a military firing zone.
But Palestinians say it is nearly impossible to receive building permits in Israeli-controlled territory, and rights groups have accused Israel of trying to forcibly clear out Khirbet Humsa's Bedouin to make room for Jewish settlement expansion.
Decades under Israeli control
Khirbet Humsa, located in the Jordan Valley, is part of the 60 percent of the West Bank designated in the interim Oslo accords of the 1990s as Area C, and slated to be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction. To this day, it remains under full Israeli administrative and military control.
Muataz Bsharat, an official in the Palestinian Authority that administers limited self-rule in the remaining part of the West Bank, told reporters it was the seventh time Israeli authorities had destroyed the village, calling it "state-sponsored terrorism."
COGAT, a branch of Israel's defence ministry, said Israel acted per a Supreme Court ruling in demolishing tents that again had been illegally erected by Palestinians who "invaded the firing range" in 2012.
Holt said the residents had no warning and say they have nowhere else to go in the sweltering heat.
Israeli authorities have demolished at least 421 structures belonging to Palestinians in the first half of 2021, a 30 percent increase over the same period in 2020, the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian NGO, said in a statement.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.