Another House Demolition in Jordan Valley

Another House Demolition in Jordan Valley

At around 09:30 on October 31, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), consisting of eight jeeps with about 40 soldiers and two bulldozers, one large and one smaller, arrived at Ad Deir village in Jordan Valley, situated in the north eastern corner of the West Bank, one of the most remote parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Their mission was to carry out the demolition orders that were handed down to three families back in 2014 without any follow up warnings.

The Israeli soldiers gave the families living in the premises 10 minutes to get their belongings out of the house and proceeded to demolish their houses, together with annexes belonging to them. Mahmud, one of the residents, tried to stop the demolition so that they could save more belongings from the houses but was beaten and detained in the army jeep for about one hour while the houses were demolished. Four children, eight women and two men became homeless. The structures that had been demolished were:  three residential buildings, four kitchens and bathrooms, two cattle sheds and two cattle feed stores.

Demolished houses.

Demolished houses.

Their houses were built between 2003 and 2004 on the land defined as Area C (see below for explanation), Israeli controlled area.  Some of the structures were dated back before 1967, meaning they did not need building permission and they should not be demolished. Most of the structures were built on concrete bases with metal, canvas and galvanized steel.

An immediate problem the families faced was their baby lambs. The families have 280 sheep and lambs in total and they needed protection for the night.  Even before the families had a chance to recover from the shock of losing their homes, they had to secure the cattle by building a fenced area before nightfall.

Fence that the families started to re-build for their sheep and lambs.

Fence that the families started to re-build for their sheep and lambs

This is not an isolated incident. Israeli Authorities demolish Palestinian-owned houses frequently. The reasons could be that they were built without permission from Israeli Authorities, which almost never grant such permission to Palestinians, or a means of collective punishment that is banned by international law. International media almost never notice the house demolitions in the West Bank. It is such a common occurrence that even Palestinian media often do not pay attention. It is particularly difficult to make such incidents visible when they take place in Jordan Valley for it is a remote part of Palestine.

Some of the furniture and their belongings that they managed to save.

Some of the furniture and their belongings that they managed to save.

 Jordan Valley and the region of the northern Dead Sea cover approximately 160, 000 hectares, which makes up about 28.8% of the West Bank. Some 88% of the land in this area had been designated as Area C where local Palestinians have limited access.  Israel builds illegal Israeli settlements and their regional councils declare the particular areas as closed military zones and nature reserves; some of the areas are closed off by separation barriers inaccessible to the Palestinians (Source: B’tselem).

 According to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA), between October 18 and October 31 there were 16 cases of demolition of Palestinian-owned structures displacing 13 people in Area C.  So far in 2016, there have been 806 cases of demolition in Area C, almost double the total number in 2015.

Area C: Over 60 per cent of the West Bank is considered Area C, where Israel retains near exclusive control, including over law enforcement, planning and construction. (Source: OCHA)