In 7 days throughout June, Israel temporarily displaced hundreds of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley from their homes in order to hold military maneuvers, bringing the total since the beginning of 2015 to 20 such days. The displacements disrupt the residents’ lives and cause various difficulties, including burnt farmland in some cases, as part of a deliberate effort to pressure the communities to leave the area permanently. Israel must halt this policy immediately and enable Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley to live undisturbed.
Yesterday, 17 June 2015, the military again displaced residents of the Palestinian communities of Khirbet al-Malih, ‘Ein al-Meyteh and al-Burj for military training near their homes. Together, the three communities are home to 29 families numbering 180 members, more than a hundred of them minors. On 8 June 2015, Civil Administration officials came to the communities and gave residents orders to evacuate their homes on 11 and 17 June between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Yesterday’s displacement was the fourth imposed on these communities this year, after they were told to leave their homes twice in May and on 11 June, for military training.
In addition, in the morning hours of 17 June 2015, the military intermittently blocked off a section of the main road between the Jordan Valley and the town of Tubas, near the evacuated communities. Vehicles arriving in the area were ordered by soldiers to turn around.
Yesterday, 16 June 2015, ten families numbering 69 members, 43 of them minors, from Khirbet Humsah were forced to leave their homes for seven hours to make way for military training in the area. When military forces arrived at the community in the morning, they told the ten evacuated families and five additional families that they would be required to leave their homes again on 22 and 25 June 2015 from 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The families vacated their homes for seven hours last week, and in May, families from the community were evacuated seven times due to military drills. Over the past two years, residents of Khirbet Humsah were displaced more than forty times for military drills. The repeated displacement of community members in favor of military drills causes an ongoing disruption to their lives.
Today, residents of Khirbet al-Malih, Ein al-Meyteh and al-Burj were also evacuated for military training.
On 15 June 2015, a Civil Administration official again came to Khirbet Susiya, accompanied by Border Police. The official took photographs of several structures in the community, including the school, and left without explaining the reason for his actions.
On 10 June, the military again evacuated Palestinian residents of Khirbet Humsah from their homes for 7 hours so soldiers could train on their land. The residents returned to find their farmland burnt and unexploded ammunition nearby. They are to be evacuated again on 16 June. The military also served three other communities in the area, similarly evacuated last month, with evacuation orders for 11 and 17 June. Israel must immediately stop this and other actions taken as part of the policy to expel Palestinians from the Jordan Valley.
On 4 June 2015, Civil Administration officials demolished five tents and several livestock pens in the Palestinian shepherding community of al-Mukasar in the northern Jordan Valley. Aid organizations provided the families who were left homeless with new tents. This latest act is part of a longstanding Israeli policy to displace thousands of Palestinians who live in dozens of small communities throughout Area C, to enable de facto annexation of this part of the West Bank to Israel.
This morning, May 25, 2015, Civil Administration officials arrived at the Ibziq community in the Jordan Valley and told residents they had to evacuate their homes for the entire day on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, from 6:00 AM to midnight. This is the second time over the past month that residents have been told to evacuate due to military training.
In April 2015 the Civil Administration ordered hundreds of Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley to leave their homes temporarily to enable military training. They suffered rough conditions and financial losses, including dead livestock and cultivated fields trampled or ruined by fire. In recent years the military has deliberately stepped up training in the Jordan Valley to harass Palestinians living in the 46% of the Jordan Valley Israel has declared “firing zones”. Israel must stop the temporary evacuation of communities for training and abandon all other steps to get Palestinians to leave the area.
A Civil Administration representative accompanied by soldiers arrived this morning at Khirbet Susiya, the South Hebron Hills and photographed and measured structures there. Based on past experience, residents fear the CA is preparing to demolish the village shortly and eject them from their land. This further to Justice Sohlberg’s decision to not issue an interim injunction on demolitions as sought by the residents in a petition that argued that the CA rejected their master plan for immaterial reasons. This harsh, unlawful move is part of Israel’s policy in Area C to facilitate the takeover of Palestinian land for settlements and the removal of Palestinian communities from Area C to Areas A and B in preparation for the annexation of lands to Israel.
At any moment, the Civil Administration might demolish all homes in the Khirbet Susiya, expelling the residents from their land. This follows a High Court decision not to issue an interim order to prevent the demolition, given in a petition filed by the residents and Rabbis for Human Rights arguing that the CA rejected their master plan for unprofessional reasons, using a double standard and discrimination against Palestinians. This cruel, illegal move is part of Israel’s policy in Area C to facilitate annexation of lands to Israel.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.