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UN condemns Israeli demolition of entire Palestinian village in Jordan Valley

Palestinians stood next to their belongings after Israeli soldiers demolished their tents [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2020

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UN Secretary General spokesman Stephane Dujarric has strongly condemned Israel's demolition of the Palestinian village of Homsa al-Baqia on Tuesday.
The spokesman for the United Nations Secretary General, Stephane Dujarric, called on Israel on Friday to stop demolishing Palestinian homes

The UN official's comments follow the Israeli army demolition of the homes of nearly 80 Palestinian Bedouins in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday - in an operation targeting an entire community at once.

Dujarric's comments were made on Friday during the daily press conference at the UN headquarters in New York in response to a number of questions from a New Arab correspondent.

"We have always stood, I mean Mr. [Nikolai] Mladenov, in his reports and the Secretary-General's special reports, firmly against this policy, and we have made this clear in public and in private conversations with the [Israeli] authorities," Dujarric said.

In response to another question about whether the Secretary-General of the UN and his office condemn these Israeli practices, Dujarric said: "We condemn them ... and we stand against these practices, and we condemned them in the past."

Dujarric pointed to the statements of the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Yvonne Haley, who called on Israel to stop the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes following Tuesday's incident.

Late on Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers razed the Bedouin village of Homsa al-Baqia, which is located in the Jordan Valley.  Tents, sheds, portable toilets and solar panels were destroyed. Around 80 people, including 41 children were left homeless.

The branch of Israel's army responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, COGAT, said it had destroyed structures "built illegally in a firing zone (military training area) in the Jordan Valley".

Israel has previously conducted military exercises in Palestinian residential areas of the Jordan Valley.

The European Union also condemned the Israeli demolitions in a statement seen by The New Arab's office in New York.

The Jordan Valley, which Israel was planning to annex earlier this year, falls in the West Bank's Area C that is fully controlled by Israel's army.

The West Bank was illegally occupied by Israel in 1967.

Under Israeli rules, Palestinians cannot build structures in the area without permits, which are typically refused, and demolitions are common.

According to Abdelghani Awada, left homeless by the operation, the Israelis who arrived in vehicles and with bulldozers gave people "10 minutes to evacuate our homes".

"Then they started bulldozing," he told AFP on Wednesday.

He stressed that his family had lived in the area for generations and accused Israel of trying to "empty the Jordan Valley of its Palestinian population".

The late-night operation in Homsa al-Baqia was unusual given that so many homes were targeted at the same time.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem accused the Israeli government of taking advantage of the world's pre-occupation with the US presidential election to carry out the demolition.

"Itseems like Israel was making use of the fact that everyone's attention is currently set elsewhere to move forward with this inhumane act," it said in a statement sent to AFP.

Read also: How UAE plans to modernise Israeli checkpoints could entrench the occupation

B'Tselem, which tracks demolition data, said that 798 Palestinians in the West Bank have been left homeless by Israeli demolitions so far this year.

That is already the highest annual tally since 2016, the year the organisation began collecting such data.

Agencies contributed to this report

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