August 5, 2021

EU powerless in Jordan Valley over Israeli violations

By Clothilde Mraffko

Posted today at 2:53 am

Of Humsa Al-Baqai’a only nine piles of debris remain at the foot of a barren hill – gutted fridges, a smashed armchair in the middle of the desert, and bits of furniture. On the morning of July 7, the Israeli Civil Administration, an organ subordinate to the army in the occupied West Bank, destroyed the thirty structures of the community, with the help of soldiers.

Six Palestinian families still lived there. “They left nothing”, says Aïcha Abdelkabesh, 58, a matriarch who watches over sixteen souls, all displaced from Humsa Al-Baqai’a, about a kilometer away. A few stakes and a tarpaulin are now used as living room, kitchen and bathroom; on the other side of a thin separation, their animals flee the scorching sun. The mattresses have been laid out; there is no room for everyone to sleep under the shelter and, anyway, it is too hot.

Wednesday July 7, the day of destruction, “The temperature blithely exceeded 40 ° C-45 ° C. We were there, under the sun, it was hell, I was afraid for the kids ”, the Palestinian woman recalls, looking fondly at the youngest of her grandchildren, 8-month-old Manar, who is wriggling in her wooden bed. The displaced people claim to have been left all day without assistance, at the foot of the peeled hill; all their belongings were seized, including the water supply and diapers. The rest was flattened with a backhoe.

Humsa al Baqai'a, Jordan Valley, West Bank, July 11, 2021. At least 70 Palestinians, including 35 children, herding families, have seen their facilities destroyed several times this year.

“We had never seen this before. The army started at 9 a.m. and ended around 8 p.m. They loaded everything that was there into vehicles except the clothes the Palestinians wore on them, explains Christopher Holt, representative of the West Bank Protection Consortium, which brings together international NGOs and is funded by European Union (EU) states. It looked like a tentative very aggressive to force these people out of the community. »

A shooting zone

European diplomats, including a representative of France, arrived in the wake, were not allowed to return. Humanitarian aid was only able to reach the site in the evening, and in a very limited way. At the end of the day, the families left the next day to take shelter a kilometer away, under tents and structures erected in March, after yet another demolition. This is the seventh time in nine months that the Israelis have destroyed all or part of the hamlet; in November 2020 and February, however, they had left their belongings to the inhabitants.

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