TUBAS: Israel’s army has demolished the homes of nearly 80 Palestinian Bedouins in the occupied West Bank, officials and witnesses said on Wednesday, in a rare operation targeting an entire community at once.
Late on Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers razed the village — including tents, sheds, portable toilets and solar panels — near Tubas in the Jordan Valley, according to a photographer at the scene, who found dozens of people left homeless.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh accused Israeli troops of having “completely demolished the village of Homsa al-Baqia, leaving around 80 people homeless”.
The branch of Israel’s army responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, COGAT, said it had destroyed structures “built illegally in a firing zone (military training area) in the Jordan Valley”.
The Jordan Valley falls within the West Bank’s “Area C” that is fully controlled by Israel’s army, which has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six Day war.
Under Israeli military law, Palestinians cannot build structures in the area without permits, which are typically refused, and demolitions are common.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem accused Israel in a statement of “deliberately creating a Kafkaesque reality that leaves Palestinians almost no way to build legally”.
In a separate message, it said the late-night operation in Homsa al-Baqia was unusual given that so many homes were targeted at the same time.
It implied that the Jewish state timed the demolition to take place while world attention was focused on the US presidential election.
“It seems like Israel was making use of the fact that everyone’s attention is currently set elsewhere to move forward with this inhumane act,” it said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past said he intended to annex parts of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory, including the Jordan Valley.
That plan was given the green light in January by US President Donald Trump. But a surprise normalisation accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates appeared to put annexation on ice. Israeli, Emirati and US leaders said they had agreed “Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty” over West Bank areas.
According to Abdelghani Awada, left homeless by Tuesday’s demolition, the Israelis who arrived in vehicles and with bulldozers gave people “10 minutes to evacuate our homes”.
Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2020