Thursday, February 25, 2021
Home World Time and again Humsah al-Fawqa is being demolished while EU representatives watch

Time and again Humsah al-Fawqa is being demolished while EU representatives watch

Everything is wet. Article link

The clothes, the mattresses, the groundsheet. A plush smurf lies with his turquoise nose in the mud, the tomatoes have been thrown away because they were rotting. While Aischa Abu Awwad and her two daughters-in-law lug buckets and sacks to the only dry corner of the tent, granddaughter Amal, 4, kneads mud buns, which she tries to feed to her nephew. Article link

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The children roar.

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The family has been living outside or almost outside for weeks. At the beginning of this month, the Palestinian village of Humsah al-Fawqa, in the northern Jordan Valley, was demolished for the second time – then for the third time, and the fourth. Article link

The residents had just built a number of tents again after a demolition campaign by the Israeli army at the end of last year, according to UN organization OCHA the largest since 2009. More than 70 people were made homeless, including 41 children. Aid agencies and the Palestinian Authority continue to donate emergency tents and supplies. Israel takes them over and over again. This week a European delegation was watching the umpteenth confiscation. COGAT, the Israeli Civil Administration of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said the tents were “erected without the required permits and approvals.”

Laila Abu Kbash with her son in Humsah al-Fawqa. Article link

The families in the village have been living outside for weeks.
Foto: Kobi Wolf

Lower down the hill, Aischa’s son Nidham follows a flock of sheep. Article link

The community lives on goats and sheep. With nearly a fifth of the West Bank declared a military training ground in the 1970s, Humsah and 37 other Palestinian communities became illegal. Israel’s Supreme Court confirmed that in 2019. Buildings are allowed to be demolished under Israeli law, and a few times a year men, women and children must seek refuge elsewhere for hours or days to make way for shooting soldiers and rolling tanks. Article link

The entry ban is usually enforced against Palestinians and not against Israeli settlers who are in the same zone. Israel wants the families from Humsah al-Fawqa to move with tents and all to a piece of land near an existing village miles away. According to the UN, that would amount to forced displacement, a violation of international law. Article link

The residents refuse. “There is no room for our sheep there,” said Ansar Abu Kbash, Nidham’s wife.

Army jeep comes driving

Five pairs of wide-open eyes follow an army jeep as it rides up the hill, pausing for a moment where two men sit on plastic chairs, tear past the white tents and disappear from view again. For the children of Humsah, every arriving vehicle means that what is left of their home can be gone in minutes.

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The situation illustrates how little influence the European Union still has on Israeli decision-making with its repeated manifestations of disapproval. A few days after the demolition in November 2020, a large EU delegation came to the site. Yet three months later the village was almost completely demolished again. A subsequent, relatively sharp statement by the Brussels EU foreign policy spokesman did not stop Israelis from again confiscating tent cloths and poles in front of EU diplomats, which an aid organization had donated for the purpose of expected heavy rainfall.

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The European Union still advocates the two-state solution, whereby a full-fledged Palestinian state should come alongside the Israeli one. Due to the combination of a continuous growth of Israeli settlements illegal under international law, including the necessary infrastructure, and at the same time a boom in the demolition of Palestinian property, more and more stakeholders are doubting whether this solution is still feasible. Article link

The EU Member States are divided among themselves; due to opposition from Central European member states, Hungary first, the EU is hardly reaching unanimous policy positions on Israel and Palestine, let alone taking action.

What remains of the hamlet of Humsah al-Fawqa after the fourth demolition by the Israeli army, more than 70 people were made homeless, including 41 children.
Foto: Kobi Wolf

Europeans had hoped that once the Trump era came to an end, the United States would resume its tough talks with the Israelis. In the reign of the previous US president, it was clear that the United States was more emphatically behind Israeli demands than ever. After Trump presented a peace plan that almost completely echoed Israeli positions, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened to formally annex parts of the West Bank last year. This intention was shelved after rare concerted action by Europe and other international players.

Very sensitive location

Also read: Is Biden showing his teeth in the Middle East?

However, new US president Joe Biden has no intention of putting this headache issue at the top of his pile of obligations. Shortly after taking office, Biden promised to resume financial aid to the Palestinians, but he is keeping a low profile on sensitive issues for the time being. When Israel announced – before Bidens took office – that it was going to build on the highly sensitive location of Givat Hamatos, there was no response from the newly elected president. Article link

The Palestinians announced the first elections in fifteen years, Biden was silent. Following the recent confiscations in Humsah al-Fawqa, the White House issued a general response condemning “unilateral actions” by both parties. It was only this week that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu received his long-awaited first call from Biden. Article link

The US government is busy with other things, primarily home affairs.

Last night the residents of Humsah al-Fawqa hardly slept again. It was pouring rain and the storm tore at the few white emergency tents that the army has left behind. Just when they have put everything back in order at the end of the morning, the next shower starts and it is time to run to get the just not dried laundry off the line again. They see only limited use in the delegations that come to her flattened village almost daily. “All those people come here to watch, but at night they sleep in their own warm beds while we sit here in the cold,” says Ansar Abu Kbash.

Also read: Article link

The two-state solution is empty talk to avoid having to do anything’

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