Israel destroys West Bank Bedouin village again

Homsa al-Baqia (Territoires palestiniens) (AFP) –


Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished the "illegal" homes of some 60 Palestinian Bedouins in the occupied West Bank's Jordan Valley, an AFP journalist and activists said.

Israeli bulldozers knocked down tents and portable toilets owned by Bedouin families in Homsa al-Baqia, a makeshift village near Tubas in the West Bank that Israeli forces had previously demolished in November, an AFP videographer said.

According to Israeli rights group B'Tselem, 61 people, over half of them children, were left homeless following Wednesday's demolitions.

The European Union's mission in the Palestinian Territories announced it would visit the site on Thursday.

COGAT, the Israeli army branch responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, said in a statement that the structures had been illegally built in a military training zone and that "the residents had agreed to take down the tents".

However, COGAT said the families changed their minds, and so on Wednesday the "last remaining tents at the site were confiscated".

Moataz Bisharat, a Palestinian activist who works to oppose Israel's occupation of the West Bank, said the action was akin to "carrying out the death sentence on all Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley".

The Jordan Valley falls within the West Bank's "Area C", which is fully controlled by Israel's army.

Under Israeli military law, Palestinians cannot build structures in the area without permits, which are typically refused, and demolitions are common.

Bisharat said the number of Palestinian families in the Homsa al-Baqia area had dropped from more than 186 in 1990 to just 21 today "because of the occupation's (Israel's) measures".

"The goal... is not just to occupy Homsa, but the whole Jordan Valley," he said.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six Day war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past has said he intended to annex parts of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory, including the Jordan Valley.

Former US president Donald Trump gave that plan the green light in January last year.

But a surprise normalisation accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates later in the year appeared to put annexation on ice.