Clashes as Bedouin homes taken down, again

Images taken by CPT observers of the destruction in Amniyr, showing the belongings of residents with a settlement outpost in the background, and of Bedouin rebuilding one of the structures shortly after its demolition, on 29 March 2011 (MaanImages/ CPT, HO)

March 29, 2011

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Seven Bedouin were beaten by Israeli border police Tuesday morning, as Israeli officials from the Civil Administration office carried out a demolition order on 12 tents in a tiny herding hamlet in the southern West Bank.

The twelve families of Khirbet Amniyr, a Bedouin encampment southeast of Yatta, were ordered out of their tent homes earlier in the year, but remained, saying they had little choice but to stay and had nowhere else to go.

When Israeli officials came to enforce the order, local activist Rateb Al-Habour said a military closure was imposed on the area, and when residents resisted the forces they were beaten and detained.

According to observers with the Christian Peacemaker Teams, villagers said the military attempted to confiscate a tractor as well, but residents surrounded it and refused to leave.

On 22 February, the Israeli military buried homes and water wells in the hamlet. The military later prevented ICRC workers from delivering aid equipment to the families.

Al-Habuor said two of the young men in the village were taken away from their relatives for hours as the demolitions progressed, and returned covered with bruises.

Medics with the Red Crescent said they were called in to treat seven injured residents, adding that two were transferred to the Hebron Government Hospital for x-rays and treatment.

Those injured were identified as Mahmoud Al-Habour, 60, Halima Al-Habour, 55, Muhammad Al-Habour, 62, Issa Al-Habour, 60, Hamda Al-Habour, 65, Jibrin Al-Habour, 17, and Tharifa Al-Habour.

Residents told Al-Habour that their homes were being destroyed so that expansion plans could be carried out at the Suseya settlement, less than a kilometer away from the Bedouin herding grounds.

Locals said the expansion plans include a garden.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was not involved in the incident, and referred the matter to the Border Guards, whose spokesman denied knowledge of the incident but said he would look into it.

The Israeli news site Ynet said the “Civil Administration accompanied by security forces destroyed four random Palestinian structures south of Mount Hebron.”

CPT observers said in a statement that residents were already rebuilding their homes.

The demolitions are part of a wave of action being taken against Palestinian Bedouin, who for the most part live and herd in the countryside.

Under the Oslo Accord agreement of the 1990s, Israel retained civil and military control over areas outside major cities. Under the agreement the slow transfer of power to the Palestinian Authority was supposed to take place in the following years. The transfer was never made, however, and Israel retains control over more than 60 percent of the West Bank under the plan.

Israel’s Civil Administration determines what areas of the countryside can be developed, and excludes Palestinians from areas it declares firing zones or land adjacent to settlements. It is nearly impossible for Palestinians to secure permission to farm, live or work these lands.

In the past week, Bedouin homes and agricultural buildings in Tubas and the Bethlehem areas have been demolished, displacing an estimated 100 people.

UN officials from the body’s Palestinian refugee agency have noted a doubling of building demolitions since the start of 2001.

“Although the Israeli authorities maintain that these demolitions are carried out due to the lack of Israeli-issued permits, the highly restrictive and often discriminatory nature of the planning regime implemented by the same authorities rarely grants Palestinians such permits in Area C, leaving them with no choice but to build ‘illegally,’ or to leave the area,” the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said February in its monthly report.

“It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind the destruction of basic rain water collection systems, some of them very old, which serve marginalised rural and herder Palestinian communities where water is already scarce and where drought is an ever-present threat,” said Maxwell Gaylard, who heads OCHA in the Palestinian territories.


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