On February 16th, representatives of the EU diplomatic missions in the Occupied Palestinian territories visited Humsa to provide them with tents for the residents. Yet, Israeli military stopped the officials and confiscated the shelters.
Since November 2020, the Bedouin community of Humsa (Khirbet Hamsa al-Foqa), Northern Jordan Valley has been under a brutal demolition campaign carried out by the Israeli occupation. Tens of the residents of Humsa have been homeless since the series of demolition has started. Israeli military demolished and confiscated properties and shelters of the community 4 times since the beginning of February 2021.
Emboldened by impunity and the lack of international reaction, heavily armed Israeli military stormed Humsa while the EU officials were still in the community. Some tents were already being assembled to provide shelter to the community and their livestock.
Israeli soldiers forced the EU vehicle to stop and confiscated five tents that were to serve as shelter for the community.
The EU representatives had no other choice but to comply with the inhumane demands and to witness yet another brutal act of the Israeli authorities.
Commenting on the EU failed attempt to protect the people of Humsa, Jamal Juma’, the General Coordinator of Stop the Wall says:
We deeply appreciate the action by the EU officials and the consulates to visit and to attempt providing humanitarian aid. Yet, the incapacity of the European Union and the international community to recognize the demolitions as an international crime committed by Israel against the Palestinian people, leaves Palestinians unprotected and EU officials humiliated.
What is happening in Humsa is not as a humanitarian disaster but an international crime. What is really required is support for basic rights not basic needs. Israel has to be held accountable now. This is the only way protection is possible.
In the end, the EU has left the residents of Humsa disappointed yet another time.
The residents of Humsa are now without the needed shelters to protect them from an extreme weather condition that has hit Palestine on February 17th.
This Israeli escalation of aggression, which targets not only Palestinians but the European
Union and the international community at large, is described in detail below:
The stormy and rainy weather conditions have exacerbated the plight of the residents in Humsa and the neighboring Bedouin community. They have no electricity after the Israeli occupation confiscated their solar panels and are unable to warm themselves. In addition, they are currently completely cut off from the rest of the world. As the Israeli occupation denies Humsa and the other Bedouin communities’ infrastructure, there are no asphalt roads and all access to the communities has been transformed to deep mud. This means they cannot access distanced health centers and other services if they need so.
After repeated demolitions and confiscations, the residents there lack the needed tents they need. Abu Anas, a shepherd from Humsa commented:
We only have a few tents provided to us by the International Red Cross. They are part of the humanitarian aid given to us after the Israeli occupation destroyed and confiscated our property. We also have some water tanks we depend on for drinking. I think in the next attack they will destroy these tents and confiscate the water tanks, leaving us between the sky and ground thirsting for water.
The demolition of Humsa comes as part of the policy of displacement and annexation, the Israeli apartheid regime has been implementing against the Jordan Valley. The coercive environment Israel has created through its brutality against Palestinians is meant to ethnically cleanse them. This comes part of the Israeli measures to de jure annex the Jordan Valley, which has been de facto annexed since over five decades.
After the Israeli raid on Humsa on February 14th to threaten the residents of another attack of demolition, Abu Anas stated:
They want us to leave to Ein Shebleh, an area inhabited and owned by other Palestinians and targeted for settlement expansion. Palestinians who live in Ein Shebleh are regularly attacked by an illegal settler. I know that if we obey their orders and go to Ein Shebleh, they will expel us from there, too. Their only aim is to take over the lands of Humsa and Ein Shebleh and make us end up in nowhere. Yet, we will stay steadfast on our land.
The community of Humsa needs political support from the international community and the UN to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Humsa and other parts of the so-called Area ‘C’ are subject to aggressive and intensified demolitions committed by the Israeli army to displace them. So far, the Israeli occupation have demolished 187 structures in Area ‘C’ leaving 259 people homeless.
States and the United Nations need to recognize explicitly the various layers of violations of international law committed by Israel through the demolitions:
- the demolitions of Humza are a part of a policy of unlawful transfer of an occupied population amount to a breach of the IV Geneva Convention.
- the demolitions are part of Israel’s illegal annexation ongoing in the occupied West Bank. A grave breach of the inadmissibility of conquest of territory by force and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
- the demolitions are part of Israel’s policies amounting to the crime of apartheid as they target the community, deny them their dignity and impose unbearable living conditions on them because they are part of the Palestinian people and their presence in this area creates an obstacle to Israel’s aim of creating separate reserves for Palestinian while annexing the rest of the land.
Considering the above and, among others, the findings of the International Court of Justice in its verdict on July 9 2004, States and the United Nations need to take immediate action and:
- ensure Israel ends its attack on Humsa and its policies violating international law immediately.
- ensure no aid and assistance is given to Israel to continue these policies in practical and diplomatic terms.
- The European Union has to immediately suspend the upcoming EU-Israel Association Council and take steps to finally end the EU-Israel Association Agreement due to Israel’s ongoing violation of Article 2 of the agreement, which states that: “Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement”.
- The United Nations Human Rights Council is to update the UN database on business enterprises involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.
- The international community is to take immediate action to suspend all military and security relations with Israel imposing a comprehensive military embargo and to ban all business ties (including investments, trade and service delivery) with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.
- The International Criminal Court is to investigate those responsible for and complicit with the repeated destruction of Humsa.
- ensure no aid and assistance is given to Israel to continue these policies in practical and diplomatic terms.
- Shelter & Non-Food Items: While donors and popular groups have managed to deliver emergency shelters, a more durable shelter response is needed in the form of residential tents. All of the community’s animal shelters and storage units for fodder and related materials have also been demolished or confiscated, so livelihood replacements are also needed.
- Water: Although 20 water tanks were provided after the demolition on 3 November 2020, water vendors are reluctant to enter the area to refill these tanks, due to their fear of arrest or confiscation of vehicles.
- Health: Currently, no specific health needs have been identified; PRCS, and the health cluster, in general, stands ready to assist. The ongoing demolitions are taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of adequate shelter is impeding the necessity for social distancing and other recommended safety measures. Moreover, Israel excluded the five million Palestinians under its military occupation from its nation-wide vaccination campaign in a stark violation of International Law. This puts the lives of the homeless residents of Humsa at risk if they catch the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Education: There is no primary or secondary school located within the community; the ongoing demolitions have disrupted the children’s attendance at the nearest school. Education needs are being assessed as part of the child protection assessment.
- Power: During the demolition raids, the Israeli occupation confiscated the solar panels on which the residents of Humsa used to depend for electricity. They no other source of power to meet their basic daily needs, including heating amid the cold winter weather.
Below we showcase the Israeli demolition and brutal raids depending on data collected by Stop the Wall and the UN OCHA:
- On February 16, armed Israeli soldiers and the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) stormed Humsa and confiscated five donor-funded tents during the presence of the EU staff that brought the tents. Over the first weeks of February the community has had 62 structures demolished in three incidents, leaving 60 people, including 35 children were displaced.
- On February 14th, 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 through helicopters. They also attacked the residents of the community and threatened them with another raid of demolition if they do not leave to Ein Shebleh. They specifically stressed that they will storm the community when the current winter storm hitting Palestine starts.
- On 12 February, Palestinians gathered at Humsa to show solidarity with the community. Yet, the Israeli occupation forces, which have a constant presence forced the popular activists to leave by throwing tear gas at them. This resulted in 30 teargas inhalation injuries which were treated on site.
- On 8 February, two of the consortium funded structures were confiscated, along with other emergency shelters provided by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS). PRCS managed to provide five emergency shelters on the night of 8 February, but outside of the demolition site itself, to avoid further confiscation. On the night of 14 February, PRCS provided an additional five tents to those members of the community lacking emergency shelter.
- On February 4th, a joint visit of NGO, UN and EU Members were made to Humsa. They met with some of the community residents and leaders and promised to take the needed measures to stop Israeli violations of human rights and International Law.
- On February 3rd, popular groups tried to rebuilt the tents that are the residents’ homes; yet, Israeli army violently attacked them, confiscated the building materials, their cars, and restricted their movement.
- On February 1st, 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 any one 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.
- On November 4th, 2020, the Israeli army, officers of the ICA and bulldozers raided the community of Humsa and razed the community to the ground. This resulted in leaving about 76 people homeless, including 40 children. The homeless people had to sleep outside in the rainy weather.
Amid the lack of homes, the community’s vulnerability is compounded by expected severe winter conditions and by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The community’s main needs are for protection, adequate shelter and shelter for their livestock. Due to the heavy military presence and fear of further confiscation/ interception of aid, other partners have also chosen to deliver assistance in nearby communities, which Humsa – Al Bqai’a community members can access.