On 17 January, the Israeli military demolished 55 structures, including 23 tents and 18 animal sheds, in Khirbat al-Mayta and Hammamat al-Maleh, two Palestinian villages east of Toubas, in the northern Jordan Valley. The Israeli forces surrounded the two villages, ordered the residents to leave their tents and proceeded to demolish the dwellings. In many cases, soldiers prevented the families from removing their belongings before their homes were destroyed. Consequently, 167 Palestinians, including 30 children, have been rendered homeless by the demolitions, which were carried out under the pretext that the area was a closed military zone for military training. The Palestinian families had lived in this area for some 30 years and relied on sheep farming as their main source of livelihood.
‘Abd-‘Ali Mousa Najadah (36 years old) – Khirbat al-Mayta – Toubas Governorate
‘Abd-‘Ali Mousa Najadah lived with his wife and seven children in the village of Khirbat al-Mayta. On 17 January, at approximately 7:00 am, six Israeli military patrols along with four bulldozers arrived in the village that was surrounded by some 50 soldiers. Half an hour later, eight soldiers headed towards the tents belonging to ‘Abd-‘Ali, his brother Ahmad ‘Ali Mousa Najadah (50 years old), and their mother, Nousrat Nisar Najadah and removed some of their possessions out of their dwellings. Shortly after, the bulldozers began demolishing the tents.
The Israeli forces demolished four plastic and metal tents, in which ‘Abd-‘Ali and his family lived, and three animal sheds, where he kept some 300 sheep. The bulldozers also destroyed Ahmad’s four tents, in which his family of 11 resided, as well as his three animal sheds. Nousrat’s tent was also entirely destroyed. After demolishing the tents, the bulldozers collected soil from the surrounding area and buried the tents’ rubble, to prevent ‘Abd-‘Ali and his relatives from repairing their homes.
One and a half hours later, ‘Abd-‘Ali told one of the Israeli Civil Administration officers present during the demolition that he had not received prior notice of the demolition. The Israeli officer replied that the area was a closed military zone for military training and that the Palestinian population was not allowed to reside or build any structures therein. At 11:00 am, the Israeli forces left the area. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8315/2013)
On the same morning, the nearby village of Hammamat al-Maleh was subject to similar raids by the Israeli military that demolished the tents and cattle sheds belonging to the local community. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8313/2013)
Later that evening, at about 7:00 pm, members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived to Khirbat al-Mayta and Hammamat al-Maleh to donate emergency relief in the form of food and 19 plastic tents. Just two days later, on 19 January, a number of Israeli patrols once again raided the two villages and confiscated the ICRC tents. Furthermore, Israeli officers warned the local communities that if they did not evacuate the area completely, the Israeli army would confiscate their sheep, as it had occurred a few years ago.
In addition to the demolition of 55 structures, the Israeli military destroyed four water tanks, three of which were located in Khirbat al-Mayta and one in Hammamat al-Maleh. These tanks represented the only source of water for the two Palestinian villages and had been donated by the Toubas municipality. Each of these water structures cost approximately 1,000 NIS (about 3,700 USD).
Despite the demolition operations, the Palestinian communities are determined to remain on their lands and have been rebuilding their tents. However, they live in constant fear that the Israeli army may raid their villages once more or seize their sheep again.
Al-Haq strongly condemns the Israeli army’s demolitions carried out to forcibly transfer the Palestinian communities from their own lands. Under international humanitarian law, destruction of property of the occupied population is prohibited unless absolute military necessity so requires. Military trainings do not meet the threshold of absolute military necessity. As a result, the Israeli army’s demolitions in Khirbat al-Mayta and Hammamat al-Maleh are unlawful and amount to a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.