Israel commit their largest act of displacement against the Palestinian people since 2016
— 5 minute read — By Daisy Olyett
On 3rd November 2020, the largest political race in the world was taking place between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. But, whilst we watched the collage of red and blue take over the United States, Israeli forces carried out their largest relocation of Palestinian settlements in four years. The term relocation here referring to the destruction of an entire Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley, leaving its people – over half of which were children – with nowhere to go. Under the all-consuming media coverage of the American election, these human rights violations were carried out mercilessly.
As of 1967, Israel have held governance over the areas known as West Bank and East Jerusalem. Since the seize, over 55,000 acts of demolition of Palestinian homes have taken place. The state of Israel surrounds these territories and its government insists that in political, biblical and historical senses, the areas in which the Palestinians occupy are Israeli. Areas such as the Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Jordan Valley are already host to barren and infertile soil, harsh weather conditions, and are under the increasingly constant threat of military invasion. But their presence there is perceived as a security threat by Israel, despite them only having a few organised militant groups that cannot match the military power of the Israeli forces.
The Humsa al Bqai’a people are a small group of just 73 individuals – 41 of whom are children. They live their lives as nomadic sheepherders in the Jordan Valley. Military vehicles were seen and recorded approaching the village, thereafter the people of the Humsa al Bqai’a were given ten minutes by Israeli military personnel to collect their belongings and leave. Officers justified their actions by declaring the settlement as “illegally constructed”, whilst others claimed that the community lay in “firing zones” and therefore they must be displaced.
The legitimacy of this operation has been criticised by a number of sources, the most high profile of which being the UN, whose humanitarian office (OCHA) labelled the event as the largest act of demolition by Israel against the Palestinian people in ten years. During the demolition, not only were the people of the village forced to flee, tents that were used as both homes and areas for livestock were flattened by military vehicles, 30 tonnes of food for said livestock was confiscated, and community toilets were destroyed.
In the midst of a pandemic, the plight of the Palestinians has been side-tracked. They are not only disproportionately suffering from COVID-19, they are also being continuously forced out of their homes for a series of contentiously unsupported reasons.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, continues to defend the military operations involved in displacing Palestinian settlements in its occupied territories. Despite a brief treaty with the United Arab Emirates over the summer of last year, it seems that Israel has returned with more force than ever to claim sovereignty over the land inhabited by the Palestinian people. As more communities are forced into smaller annexed territories, Israeli Zionists build large and sophisticated settlements to replace them, laying claim to the land that they believe is their birth right. With 4,948 Israeli settlements in West Bank under construction since mid October, it’s apparent that the demolition of Palestinian homes will continue unless foreign intervention takes place.