Skip to main content
From the field

Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian shepherding community in Jordan Valley

Update: On the day of the demolition, the six families received tents from the ICRC and erected them at a nearby site. This morning, 13.1.14 soldiers and Civil Administration officers arrived, took down the six tents and confiscated them, leaving the families again without shelter.

A girl from ‘Ein Karzaliyah against the background of the ruins of the community's buildings, 8.1.14
A girl from the community of 'Ein al-Karzaliyah on the background of the demolished houses. Photo: 'Atef Abu A-rub, B'Tselem, 8 Jan. 2014

At about 6:30 A.M. this morning, military forces and Civil Administration personnel arrived at the Palestinian community of Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah in the northern Jordan Valley. They then proceeded to demolish all of the community’s buildings, thereby rendering homeless the entire population – three families comprised of 10 adults and 15 minors. The residents have been left with no shelter for themselves or their livestock in the harsh winter weather conditions. The Israeli military also demolished the only water-pipe available to the residents.

B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell addressed the demolitions in Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah earlier today, saying “Israel has once again forgotten that control entails responsibility. The Jordan Valley cannot be addressed as a merely theoretical issue, discussing its future while completely disregarding the fate of its residents. At the moment, the authorities must set aside their political ambitions and consider the fate of 25 individuals, who do not know how they’ll get through the night and how their flocks, their only source of income and livelihood, will fare.”

Video of the demolition, filmed by a Sujud 'Atiyyah Fathi Bani Maniyah, 15, from the community.

The past few weeks have seen an ongoing public debate in Israel regarding the future of the Jordan Valley, even including the introduction of a bill proposing its annexation to Israel. The domestic Israeli debates as well as the diplomatic debates are being conducted in complete detachment from the reality on the ground in the Jordan Valley, which is home to thousands of Palestinians. These Palestinian residents live in difficult conditions, subject to harassment and continuous threats from Israeli authorities. The current legal status of the Jordan Valley is that of an occupied territory. Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for the fate of the residents of the Jordan Valley and is obligated to assure their wellbeing. This obligation includes ensuring that residents are afforded the opportunity to build homes for themselves and to make a living. The demolition of the residential compound in Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah this morning – against the law and without offering the residents any viable alternative – runs contrary to Israel’s obligations and is in blatant violation of the rules of International Humanitarian Law that Israel has undertaken to uphold.

The Civil Administration determined that the buildings must be demolished, citing the argument that the community is located in a closed military zone used as a firing zone. The expulsion of residents of an occupied territory from their homes for the purpose of military training by the occupying power is unlawful. International Humanitarian Law stipulates that such expulsion is permissible only in the case of imperative military needs or to safeguard the local population.

Stills images from the demolition in our new photo blog, Eyes Wide Open