Israel Raids 3 Palestinian Villages Where Hundreds Are Slated to Be Expelled Home
Soldiers collected residents' identity cards and held two for questioning for two hours. Army says it conducted checks after receiving intelligence information.In the wee hours of Wednesday morning Israeli soldiers raided three West Bank communities that the government has earmarked for forced relocation: Palestinian shepherding communities Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal in the north of the Jordan Valley, and the Bedouin community Khan al-Ahmar.
According to reports that reached the human rights organization Machsom Watch, the raids took place at about three in the morning.
Army jeeps with some 50 soldiers deployed among the tents and huts at Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal. They collected the identification cards of the residents and held two of the residents for questioning in a jeep for about two hours. The ID cards were also returned after a couple of hours.
The communities had received orders signed by General Roni Numa three weeks ago, giving them eight days to evacuate all their belongings.
The orders were only delivered on November 9, despite being signed on November 1. They were not delivered in person, but placed on the side of the road. A map accompanying them indicates that the orders apply to about 300 people.
Although the Israeli Civilian Administration in the West Bank has clarified that the orders don’t refer to people, only to their property, the residents do not understand how they can continue living without structures, paddocks and animals. Their opposition is represented by advocate Tawfeq Jabarin.
The raid sparked a panic among the residents, some of whom hastened to usher their flocks away, fearing the animals would be taken, Machsom Watch was told.
The human rights group B'Tselem reports that soldiers and police also raided the Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, located in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Jericho, on Wednesday morning. The security forces spent some hours there, entering homes and counting the number of residents, according to the B’Tselem report.
The Civil Administration, Israeli settlers and the right-wing Regavim movement aspire to expel Palestinian and Bedouin communities that have been living in the area for decades and move them to a permanent town near Abu Dis. A previous plan to move them north of Jericho has been shelved.
The communities have been battling the demolition orders in court for years through advocate Shlomo Lecker. However, in its responses to the court, the state remains adamant that they have to move.
Although these communities have lived in the area for decades, Israel has not permitted them to connect to infrastructure or to build the additional living structures or public spaces necessary due to population growth. The residents have not been allowed to register their village at the population bureau of the Palestinian Authority, and instead are registered as residents of Bardala, Ein al-Baida and other villages.
In 2008, the Agriculture Organization of the United Nations built iron sheds for the community, a project funded by Japanese aid.
The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson released a statement saying that as a result of intelligence information, soldiers arrived in the area to check ID cards, and that two individuals were questioned for about 10 minutes, and then released. The statement added that the whole operation took less than an hour, and was completed by 15 soldiers who worked strictly on the intelligence information obtained.