UN calls for a stop to IDF demolitions on Bedouin villages in West Bank

Humsa al Bqai’a is one of 38 Bedouin communities partially or fully located on zones declared by Israel as "firing zones," intended for military use.

A Palestinian woman walks in Khirbet Humsah in Jordan Valley in the West Bank, November 5, 2020.  (photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)
A Palestinian woman walks in Khirbet Humsah in Jordan Valley in the West Bank, November 5, 2020.
(photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reiterated its calls for Israel to stop demolitions on Palestinian Bedouin villages in the West Bank.
Israel's military liaison agency with the Palestinians, COGAT, have been coordinating demolitions with the IDF against what it says are illegal structures. The structures consist of mainly tented homes, animal shelters, latrines and solar panels.

OCHA humanitarian representatives met with the Bedouin community of Humsa al Bqai’a in the West Bank this past week. They stated that 60 people - including 35 children - were "displaced from their homes and their belongings seized or destroyed by Israeli forces" on February 1 and 3.
Humsa al Bqai’a is one of 38 Bedouin communities partially or fully located on zones declared by Israel as "firing zones," intended for military use.
The representatives claimed that some items seized included tents provided to the families as humanitarian assistance after Israel demolished most of a Bedouin village in the West Bank in November, displacing 73 Palestinians - including 41 children - in the largest such demolition in years.
The residents had moved back to the site within days following the demolition, using the tents provided by Palestinian aid groups.
OCHA representatives report that the village residents were verbally ordered to leave the area a second time before the demolitions were conducted. They also stated that the community has rejected previous proposals to be moved to another location, and their appeals to stay have been denied.
Even with the efforts made by the Israeli government to move the community, the UN representatives stated that the demolitions create a "situation where the community is put under pressure to move raises a real risk of forcible transfer, which is a breach of international law."
OCHA also "expressed concerns over other impending demolitions," including one of a school in Bedouin village in the southern West Bank. Adding to their argument, the representatives explained that Bedouin children, moreso girls, are "among the most vulnerable to human rights violations," and said that "limiting their access to education and other basic services during a pandemic only exacerbates this vulnerability."
OCHA claims there are currently 53 schools that have demolition orders placed on them.
Some 689 structures have been demolished across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2020, leaving 869 Palestinians homeless, according to the United Nations. Some 152 have been demolished so far in 2020. Israel often cites a lack of building permits in demolishing Palestinian structures in the West Bank.
The United Nations claims that "due to the restrictive and discriminatory... Palestinians can almost never obtain such permits," adding that "demolitions are a key means of creating an environment that leaves Palestinians with no other choice than to leave their homes."
COGAT states that the enforcement of these demolitions are "carried out in accordance with the authorities and procedures, and subject to operational considerations," according to a previous statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.