Israeli forces bulldozed 70 structures in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, displacing a total of 73 Palestinians, including 41 children, in what is considered the largest single demolition in the past decade, according to the United Nations. Military vehicles escorted the excavators as they shattered sheds, tents, animal shelters, toilets and solar panels. Reports also disclosed that the Israeli officials have also destroyed 30 tons of livestock food, seized a vehicle and two tractors that belonged to three residents. Families from the demolished herding community were seen scouring through their smashed belongings on Wednesday.
The Guardian: Three-quarters of the community lost their shelters during Tuesday’s operation
According to The Guardian, the demolished village is one of several Bedouin and sheepherding communities in the Jordan Valley area that is located within Israeli-declared army training “firing zones”, and despite being within the Palestinian Territories, people there often face demolitions for a building without Israeli permission.
Israel’s Civil Administration, the body tasked with running the occupation, said it had carried out an “enforcement activity … against seven tents and eight pens which were illegally constructed, in a firing range located in the Jordan Valley”.
NPR.Org: “I am 99% certain this was taking advantage of the U.S. elections. … There were no journalists around,” a resident said
NPR.Org reports that Khirbet Humsah, also called Humsah Al Bqai’a, was a small community in tents and shacks located in the Jordan Valley, the agricultural breadbasket of the West Bank that Palestinians claim for a future state. Israeli leaders have talked about seeking to permanently control the area for its strategic value because it borders Jordan.
“A demolition on this scale is extremely rare,” said Amit Gilutz of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that documents and opposes Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. “Everyone’s attention is directed elsewhere.”
A Palestinian aid group has provided tents as temporary shelter for the residents who lost their homes, but al-Kbash said they were not sufficient for the village’s families, including children. He said villagers were now sleeping on the rubble of their destroyed shacks.