British Parliamentarians condemn Israeli home demolitions in the South Hebron Hills
British Parliamentarians who have visited Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills on Caabu and Medical Aid for Palestinians delegations have condemned Israeli home demolitions on 2 February 2016. Caabu has also written to the British Foreign Office calling on the British Government to raise this issue in the strongest terms with Israeli authorities.
Israeli military demolished 22 homes in the Palestinian communities of Khirbet Jenbah and Khirbet al-Halawah in the South Hebron Hills, structures which were home to over 100 people. Caabu’s latest delegation to Palestine and Israel visited this area in September 2015 with Israeli human rights organisation, Breaking the Silence.
Former International Development Minister and Caabu patron Sir Alan Duncan MP, who visited the area on that Caabu delegation said:
“This is the reality behind the sanitised rhetoric about life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories - homes torn down and communities torn apart because Israel designates land that doesn’t belong to it as a ‘firing zone’. And as the bulldozers rip apart Palestinian homes made from tents and corrugated iron, permanent and illegal Israeli settlements look on unscathed. This is nothing less than state-sponsored annexation.”
Labour MP Paula Sherriff who was also on the September 2015 delegation said:
“Having met Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills in September 2015 under constant threat of their homes being demolished and livelihoods destroyed, I am devastated to hear about these disgraceful actions. Only swift and decisive action by the international community will save the homes and livelihoods of these Palestinians. As an occupying power, Israel has the responsibility to protect Palestinians, not demolish their homes. Such home demolitions are not the actions of a country that proclaims itself to be a democracy.”
Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, Richard Burden, who visited on a Caabu delegation in 2013 said:
“I visited this area of the South Hebron Hills with Jack Straw in 2013 at a time when homes were being demolished in the Jordan valley. We were told then that these Palestinian shepherds were facing demolition of their homes and properties, and the loss of livelihoods. To lose one’s home in such a way is an unimaginable horror. The international community cannot just remain silent as Israel blatantly disregards international law and treats the most vulnerable with such contempt. This has nothing to do with security and everything to do with taking more Palestinian land in occupied territory.”
The demolitions took place in an area referred to by Israel’s military as ‘Firing Zone 918’ – a military term to describe this portion of land in the South Hebron Hills. If all the proposed demolitions took place, this would mean the expulsion of 1,500 Palestinian residents from their land.
According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, in the Palestinian community of Khirbet Jenbah, fifteen structures which were home to 60 people (including 32 minors) were demolished, and in Khirbet al-Halawah, seven structures which were home to 50 people (including 32 minors) were demolished. The homes were mostly made from corrugated iron, or were tents. Five solar panels which the families had been using for energy were also confiscated from these communities, all of which were donated by a humanitarian aid organisation. 10 of the structures had been funded by the European Commission and others were co-funded by the UK and Denmark as part of UN programmes.
Notes to editors:
1) For more information or interviews contact Chris Doyle, on + 44207 832 1321 or +447968 040281.
2) Caabu/Medical Aid for Palestinians delegation September 2015 http://www.caabu.org/news/news/caabu-and-medical-aid-palestinians-delegation-visits-palestine-september-2015
3) Caabu/Medical Aid for Palestinians delegation December 2013 http://www.caabu.org/news/news/israel-must-learn-cruelty-doesnt-pay-jack-straw-his-visit-south-hebron-hills-caabu-and-med