The European Union called on Israel to halt the demolition of the illegal Palestinian herding village of Khirbet Humsa in the Jordan Valley, after the IDF razed it for the fifth time in three months this week.
"Confiscation, demolition of structures in Hamsa al-Foqa & dislocation of around 60 people confirm regrettable trend despite #COVID19 & obligations of [Israel] as occupying power under [international] humanitarian law," EU spokesperson Peter Steno tweeted on Tuesday.
He called on Israel to "halt this practice."
Nine tents were removed by the Civil Administration on Monday, which according to the left-wing NGO B'Tselem, housed 61 people, including 31 minors.
It added that five tents and two shacks for livestock were removed. Three vehicles were also confiscated.
The Civil Administration had demolished the village in November, but residents rebuilt it. Last week the Civil Administration removed the tents on Monday, and returned twice on Wednesday to confiscate tents.
A spokesperson for the Civil Administration said the structures had been illegally erected in an IDF firing zone. It explained that it had spoken with the Humsa residents and offered to relocate the tents to another location. The spokesperson said the Civil Administration had originally received consent to relocate the tents last Monday, but that the residents reneged on the agreement.
Stano said that some of the structures confiscated and destroyed in Humsa this month and in November had been funded by the EU and EU Member States.
He linked the demolitions to West Bank settlement development, which he also said must cease.
"The EU recalls its firm opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, which it sees as illegal under international law and as an impediment to a viable two-state solution," he said.
"The EU also reiterates its call on the government of Israel to halt all continued settlement expansion," he added.
Last Thursday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and European Union representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff made a solidarity visit to the village, which is accessible only via a dirt road. Village residents told them they had no desire to relocate.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry said that its country had provided funding for some of the tents and condemned the demolitions.
“This practice goes against international humanitarian law. We demand the Israeli authorities put an end to it,” the Belgian Foreign Ministry said last Friday.
The Israeli Right has argued that illegal villages such as Khirbet Humsa are part of a Palestinian Authority plan to strengthen its hold on Area C of the West Bank, so that it can become part of a future Palestinian state.
The Palestinians believe that Israel is cracking down on such villages and refusing to legalize Palestinian construction to ensure that the land can be used Israeli development and preserved for eventual annexation.
“These demolitions are part of Israel’s policy, enacted throughout the West Bank, to make Palestinians’ lives unbearable, in order to force them to leave their homes, concentrate them in enclaves and take over their land.
“This policy constitutes an attempt at forcible transfer – which is defined as a war crime under international humanitarian law,” B’Tselem said.