Tented homes and animal shelters in the village of Khirbet Humsah were last razed in November, though residents who returned soon after, now vow to stay, with some sleeping on mattresses and plastic tarps strewn on the rocky soil.
Israel has begun demolishing a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank for the second time in three months, in what a rights group has called an attempt to displace an entire Palestinian community from the area.
Israeli authorities said the village of Khirbet Humsah, in the northern West Bank's Jordan Valley, had been constructed illegally on a military firing range, and that residents had rejected their offer to move to a nearby area.
Khirbet Humsah's 130 inhabitants have vowed to stay, with some sleeping on mattresses and plastic tarps strewn on the rocky soil.
Tented homes and animal shelters in the village were last razed in November, though residents returned soon after.
UNICEF said on Twitter that it "is deeply concerned by initial reports that dozens of children have been displaced by demolitions/dismantling of houses and community infrastructure in Khirbet Humsah."
UNICEF is deeply concerned by initial reports that dozens of children have been displaced by demolitions/dismantling of houses and community infrastructure in Khirbet Humsah, West Bank. Humanitarian teams to assess. Children should always be protected.#ForEveryChild, #protection— UNICEF Palestine (@UNICEFpalestine) February 3, 2021
'We will stay here'
"We will not move from here, we will stay here. If they demolish, we will rebuild," said one of the residents, Ibrahim Abu Awad. He and other Bedouin in the village said they feared Israeli settlers would seize the vacated land.
The Israeli rights group BTselem said the demolition at Khirbet Humsah was "unusually broad," accusing Israel of seeking "to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities in order to take over their land."
Dismantled tents housed 74 Palestinians: BTselem
Some 440,000 Israeli settlers live among more than three million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war and which Palestinians want as part of a future state.
Israeli forces began dismantling tents and livestock pens in Khirbet Humsah on Monday, residents and BTselem said. On Wednesday, Israeli troops accompanied by bulldozers also knocked down several steel and wooden structures in the village, Reuters TV footage showed.
The dismantled tents had housed 74 Palestinians, including 41 minors, BTselem said in a statement.
COGAT, Israel's military liaison to the Palestinians, said it had explained to residents "the dangers involved in staying within the firing range" and offered them space outside of it.
"Despite the offer, the residents refused to independently move the tent areas that had been set up illegally and without the required permits and approvals," COGAT said.
Palestinians and rights group say such permits are nearly impossible to obtain from Israel.
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