This August, we documented the demolition of 50 Palestinian residential structures by Israel’s Civil Administration. The homes demolished were in various Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank. In an unusually large-scale demolition spree, Israeli authorities razed nearly as many homes in August as they did in the first seven months of 2015, and rendered homeless over 200 people, half of them minors. To the thousands of Palestinians living in dozens of farming and shepherding communities in Area C, most of which are hooked up to neither water nor power grids, the humble tents and shacks that were destroyed were home, and the livestock pens vital to their livelihood. Two women – one from Khirbet Humsah in the Jordan Valley and one from the Abu Falah community in the region of Ma’ale Adumim – told of the virtually impossible existence imposed by Israeli policy.
Demolition is just one measure of many adopted by Israeli authorities with a view to making life in Area C intolerable to Palestinians and to push them out of the area. For example, the military routinely orders families to leave their homes temporarily so it can train in the area. In August we uploaded a brief film that depicts the ramifications of these temporary displacements. Another illustration of this policy is what the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai said at a Knesset committee. He made it abundantly clear that the residents of the village of Susiya can now “choose” between coerced transfer to land adjacent to Area A or complete destruction of their village.
This policy of the Israeli government, which has been systematically implemented for years, constitutes the forcible transfer – directly: through demolition of homes, or indirectly: by creating an intolerable reality – of Palestinians who are protected persons in an occupied territory. This longstanding policy is unlawful, keeping Palestinian residents from leading normal lives, and is conspicuously cruel and systematic.
In August 228 people - including 124 minors – lost their homes in a demolition spree in the West Bank by Israeli authorities. Most demolitions were carried out in small shepherding communities which face the constant threat of expulsion from Area C. Under the guise of enforcing construction laws, Israel pursues a policy to minimize Palestinian presence in Area C by making life there unbearable. This policy, systematically implemented for years, constitutes the forcible transfer of protected persons inside an occupied territory, be it directly – through the demolition of homes – or indirectly, by creating an intolerable reality.
On seven different occasions in June, during the fast of Ramadan, the military displaced dozens of Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley for hours on end, for military exercises, sometimes leaving pastures and crops trampled and scorched. Temporary displacements have become routine for many Jordan Valley communities, and they are not random. Knesset Subcommittee on the Judea and Samaria Area transcripts published in Israeli daily Haaretz reveal that one object of the training in the Jordan Valley is forcing out local Palestinians. ‘Aref Daraghmeh, a Jordan Valley resident and B’Tselem field researcher, documented how this reality impacts the displaced families.
On 19 August 2015, the Supreme Court suspended ‘Alan’s administrative detention order due to his medical condition. If it is found that the neurological damage he suffered is irreversible, the order will be voided. ‘Alan, 30, of ‘Einbus, Nablus District, had been held in administrative detention for over nine months. He is now in Barzilai Hospital in Israel following a two-month hunger strike to protest his detention. Administrative detention means being held without trial, the detainee is not indicted, receives no explanation for being held in custody, and does not know when he will be released.
More than two and a half years ago, soldiers killed sixteen-year-old Samir ‘Awad. A year and two months later, his father petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) together with B'Tselem, demanding the Military Advocate General (MAG) reach a decision whether to take action against the soldiers involved or close the case. The State Attorney’s Office continues the foot-dragging in this case, repeatedly ignoring interim court decisions.
On the night of 22 July 2015 soldiers entered 19 homes in the Palestinian village of Qusrah, the West Bank and took down the occupants’ details. B’Tselem does not know of any arrests or summons for interrogation made. In response to B’Tselem’s query about similar incidents, the IDF Spokesperson said they were an “operational activity to map houses”, “in accordance with official orders”, and meant to “minimize disturbance to routine life in the area”. B’Tselem then requested a copy of the orders and an explanation of the purpose of this unjustified disruption of people’s lives by the military.