PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 15/057/2007
14 August 2007
Further Information on UA 99/07 (MDE 15/029/2007, 27 April 2007, MDE
15/052/2007, 27 July 2007, and MDE 15/055/2007, 3 August 2007) House
demolition/Forced Eviction/Denial of Access to Water
ISRAEL/ More than 100 residents of Hadidiya Village
Several homes were destroyed by the Israeli army on the morning of 13 August in
the Palestinian village of Humsa, in the Jordan Valley area of the Occupied
West Bank. The destroyed properties were home to the families of Abdallah Hsein Bisharat (more than 30 people) and Ahmad Abdallah Bani Odeh (some 10 people).
Most of those who have been affected by this latest demolition are children.
The families whose homes were destroyed, as well as other families whose homes
remain at risk of demolition, had been forced to move to the Humsa area from
the nearby hamlet of Haididya last April, when the Israeli army increased the
pressures to force the Palestinian population of Hadidiya and Humsa to
abandon the area altogether.
As part of the increased pressure being exerted by the Israeli army on the
villagers has been the imposition of additional restrictions on their movements
and on their access to water. The lack of water, especially during the hottest
months of the year (July-August) has already forced some of the villagers to
spend more time away from the village.
One of those whose home was demolished Ahmad Abdallah Bani Odeh, had his
tractor and water tank confiscated by Israeli soldiers on 28 July. The army
told the villagers and confirmed to Amnesty International that to get the
tractor and water tank back they must sign a pledge to leave and not return to
the area, which the Israeli army considers a "closed military area" for use by
Israeli forces as a shooting practice area. They must also pay a fine of 4,500
Shekels (approx US$1,000), which is unaffordable for people living below the
poverty line on less than US$2 a day.
The confiscation of the tractor (one of only two in the village) and water tank
worsened the already dire water shortage for the Palestinian villagers in the
area. They have to travel to other areas to buy water, as the Israeli army
does not allow them to use the nearby well, even if they pay, which is for the
sole use of the Israeli settlers in the nearby settlements of Ro’I, Beka’ot and
The latest demolitions, together with the increased harassment, restrictions on
movement and on access to water, is part of the Israeli army's concerted
efforts to force the Palestinian inhabitants of large areas of the Jordan
Valley to leave the area.
The Israeli army is making increasing efforts to force local Palestinian
communities out of the area, notably through house demolition, restriction on
movement and preventing access to water and other essential services. These
communities have been living in the areas since long before the Israeli army
occupied the West Bank in 1967.
The Palestinian Bedouin residents of Hadidiya have traditionally been farmers
and herders, living off their crops and the dairy products from their sheep and
goats. The growing restrictions imposed by the Israeli army in recent years on
their movements and access to water have made it increasingly difficult for
them to survive in the area. Now the Israeli army is taking steps to force them
out of the area altogether.
The villagers have welcomed international pressure, which has brought several
high-level delegations to visit the Hadidiya and Humsa area. However, as
international attention diminishes the threat to the villagers increases and
further action now is crucial.
For years Israel has pursued a policy of discriminatory house demolition,
allowing scores of Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, to be
built on occupied Palestinian land, while confiscating Palestinian lands,
refusing building permits for Palestinians and destroying their homes. The land
vacated has often been used to build illegal Israeli settlements. International
law forbids occupying powers from settling their own citizens in the
territories they occupy.
Palestinians, especially Palestinian Bedouins, who live in the Jordan Valley,
have suffered particular pressure. Most of the Jordan Valley area of the
occupied West Bank has been declared a military area by the Israeli army or has
been taken over by some 36 Israeli settlements.