Israeli forces raze Palestinian village of Khirbet Humsa, leaving 41 children homeless

The Israeli army has left nearly 80 Palestinians homeless after they razed their village in the occupied West Bank town of Khirbet Humsa on Wednesday 4 November.

According to human rights organisation B’Tselem, 11 families totalling 74 people were displaced, including 41 children, one as young as three months old. 

According to local news reports, bulldozers also demolished livestock sheds and enclosures, portable toilets, water containers and solar panels, on top of confiscating vehicles, tractors and destroying more than 30 tonnes of fodder for livestock belonging to some of the residents. 

Aisha Abu Awad, 56, told Middle East Eye she felt “humiliated” as she watched the armed soldiers and workers from COGAT, the branch of Israel’s army responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, empty her belongings outside her family’s home onto the ground. 

“We were about to have lunch when bulldozers suddenly arrived, at 11 in the morning. Military jeeps and soldiers, they surrounded us,” Abu Awad described. “Then they told us to start evacuating, and they began emptying all of our belongings outside.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the international community to intervene against Israeli troops’ attempt to “displace the citizens of Khirbet Humsa and tens of similar communities from their homes and lands”, pointing to the fact that Israel “chose this evening to commit another crime” as the attention is focused on the United States presidential election.

COGAT said it destroyed structures that were “built illegally in a firing zone (military training area) in the Jordan Valley”.

The Jordan Valley is home to approximately 60,000 Palestinians, according to the UN, but nearly 90 percent of the land is part of what is known as Area C, the three-fifths of the West Bank that is under complete Israeli control.

According to statistics from Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now, less than two percent of Palestinian building applications for Area C were granted during 2009 to 2016. 

Anything built without a permit, from home extensions to tents, animal pens and irrigation networks, is at risk of demolition by the Israeli military.

According to Al Jazeera, almost 800 Palestinians, including 404 minors, have already lost their homes in 2020. Throughout the entire previous year, 677 lost their homes, up from 387 in 2018 and 521 in 2017.