Palestine Monitor, 10 August 2010
In the early morning light of 5 August, two bulldozers, about twenty military jeeps, two border police and three civil police cars came to the village of Al-Farisiya in the north eastern corner of the West Bank in the Jordan Valley. The Israeli Authorities convoy cleared out the villagers and then destroyed their 27 of their homes, leaving 91 homeless.
Most of the tent structures were quickly rebuilt after a previous IOF demolition two weeks ago. Such destruction of shelter in occupied territory is illegal under the 4th Geneva Convention’s Article 53:
“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property… is prohibited except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
On 7 August, international activists organised by the Jordan Valley Solidarity group came to Al-Farisiya to help unearth and salvage building materials and personal items in the wreckage-strewn former village.
Large tracts of scraped earth scarred the flaxen hills where the Israeli Army had bulldozed homes into piles bristling with twisted metal. Tarps, corrugated tin sheets, and pink plastic panels lay in heaps half-buried under grey dirt. Volunteers from California to Columbia, Germany to Israel, dug up a whole community’s effects: notebooks, a purse, a box of pencils, and children’s shoes. A small, colorful Mickey Mouse backpack was exhumed. White sacks of corn spilled their yellow kernels through holes poked in their sides, as volunteers and Bedouin tried to recover the food.
The demolition of this village in the north eastern West Bank reflects a long-practiced Israeli policy of delegitimising – and then destroying – Palestinian’s rights to housing.
From January 2009 to April 2010, the Israeli Authorities destroyed 44 West Bank homes, leaving 317 dispossed, according to Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem. Half of the demolitions occurred in the Jordan Valley within Area C – the 60% of the West Bank placed under Israel jurisdiction after the 1993 Oslo Accords. With the razing of Al-Farisiya, the number of demolitions has reached half of B’Tselem’s 16-month survey in just four months.
Building in Area C must be illicit. Israel will not issue construction permits, citing the technical zoning of the impoverished area. Israel continues to use 1940s British Mandate zoning, plotted before the 1948 war, or al-Nakba, and its resultant, relevant demographic transformation. Villagers are forced to build on land zoned more than fifty years ago for agriculture. They then live in these homes, unsanctioned by the government, without water and electricity, near Jewish settler communities heavily subsidized, fortified and rezoned by Israel.