Yesterday, 4 June 2018, around midday, Israeli Civil Administration officials arrived at the community of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley and handed temporary evacuation orders to five Palestinians families who were already displaced from their homes three times in the last two months. The families were ordered to vacate their homes today, 5 June, from 6 o’clock in the morning until noon, allegedly for the purpose of military training nearby. This morning, Civil Administration officials and a military detail came to the community and accompanied the families, who evacuated on their own – some by car and others on foot. All 29 family members – 19 of whom are minors, including an infant and a child with Down syndrome – had to again go with some of their livestock to a secluded area about ten kilometers from home and wait there, maintaining the Ramadan fast with no shelter, until receiving permission to return home.
On Thursday, 24 May 2018, three Israeli Supreme Court justices – Noam Sohlberg, Anat Baron and Yael Willner – ruled that the state may demolish the homes of the community of Khan al-Ahmar, transfer the residents from their homes and relocate them. This ruling removes the last stumbling block in Israel’s way in the matter, lifting the impediment which had thus far served to defer the transfer of the community, a war crime under international law. While it is a policy shaped by the government, the justices – here as well as in other cases – pitched in and paved the road to the commission of a war crime. Personal liability for the commission of this crime will fall not only on policy-makers. Those who paved the juridical route enabling the crime are equally liable.
Since 5 March 2018, Israeli troops including infantry, tanks and other armored vehicles have been training at all hours in the area of Khirbet al-Malih and the village of al-Farisiyah in the northern Jordan Valley. Today, 13 March, forces including at least 20 tanks and dozens of military vehicles have been training throughout the northern Jordan Valley, including just one km from al-Farisiyah. The incessant military training in the Jordan Valley is part of a longstanding policy to drive Palestinian communities to leave, as though freely will.
Israel has intensified military training in the Jordan Valley since Nov. 2017, reducing available pastureland, destroying crops and hurting the livelihoods of local Palestinians. This is part of an effort to drive Palestinians out of area using a callous policy that also includes denied access to development and infrastructure and house demolitions. If residents do leave because of this policy, Israel will have committed a war crime and those responsible, including the minister of defense and the prime minister, would be personally liable.
For years, Israel has been leading a policy aimed against Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, with the intention of making the residents leave their homes and thus transfer the communities within the area. The policy is implemented tactically, so as to avoid blatant images of soldiers forcing Palestinians onto trucks. Instead, Israel invests efforts in making the lives of these residents unbearable, in order to get them to leave their homes as though of their own free will. The policy is not applied uniformly to all the communities, and ranges from harassment and preventing development to an explicit intention to expel entire communities. In any case, Israel’s goal is to minimize Palestinian presence in order to use the territory for its own uses, including expanding settlements. Following is a review of the situation of several communities that Israel explicitly declared its intention to expel.
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.