UN and European states call on Israel to stop demolitions | News from the occupied West Bank

According to the UN, at least 70 people living in the Bedouin community, including 41 children, are displaced in the district of Humsa Al-Baqaia.

On Friday, the United Nations and European members of the Security Council called on Israel to stop the demolitions of Bedouin settlements in the Jordan Valley and ensure humanitarian access to the community living in Humsa Al-Baqaia.

In a joint statement at the end of a monthly session of the Security Council on the conflict in the Middle East, Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom said they were “deeply concerned about the recent demolitions and repeated confiscations of items, including structures funded by the EU and donors and implemented by the Israeli authorities in Humsa Al-Baqaia in the Jordan Valley. “

He said the concern also extended to the roughly 70 people living in the Bedouin community, including 41 children.

“We reiterate our call to Israel to stop the demolitions and confiscations,” the statement said.

“We further call on Israel to allow full, sustainable and unhindered humanitarian access to the community of Humsa Al-Baqaia.”

Humsa al-Baqia sits in the Jordan Valley, a fertile and strategic piece of land stretching from Lake Tiberias to the Dead Sea, which has emerged as a flashpoint in the struggle for the West Bank.

The Jordan Valley is home to around 60,000 Palestinians, according to the UN, but nearly 90 percent of the land is in what’s known as Area C, three-fifths of the West Bank which is under full Israeli control.

It includes closed military zones and around 50 agricultural settlements housing some 12,000 Israelis.

Seizure of property

Palestinians are excluded from these areas and the lands they own. They are prohibited from digging wells or constructing any type of infrastructure without a military permit which is difficult to obtain.

From 2009 to 2016, less than 2% of the more than 3,300 permit applications in Area C were successful, according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group, citing official statistics.

Anything built without a permit, from house extensions to tents, animal enclosures and irrigation systems, risks being demolished by the IDF.

Israeli machines demolish a Palestinian house in Area C near Yatta in the southern area of ​​the West Bank city of Hebron last November [File: Hazen Bader/AFP]

Nearly 800 Palestinians, including 404 minors, have already lost their homes in 2020.

Throughout the previous year, 677 lost their homes, up from 387 in 2018 and 521 in 2017.

The UN envoy for the region, Norway’s Tor Wennesland, also raised concerns about demolitions and land confiscations on Friday.

He said Israeli security forces “demolished or confiscated 80 structures” in the Bedouin community “in an Israeli-declared shooting zone in the Jordan Valley.”

He said these actions had “displaced 63 people, including 36 children on several occasions, and followed a similar demolition in November 2020”.

“I urge Israel to stop the demolition and seizure of Palestinian property throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to allow Palestinians to develop their communities,” he said.

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