Since the beginning of 2021, as at 16 February, the Israeli Occupation has destroyed, seized or forced people to demolish at least 197 Palestinian Bedouin community homes and buildings in the Jordan Valley village of Humsa al Bqai’a (also known as Khirbet Humsa, Humsa al-Fuqa and Humsa al-Buqai’a), displacing over 280 people, including some 150 children. Israeli forces have also either destroyed or seized all of the community’s animal shelters, fodder storage units and related material. This latest brutality is happening, just when the population’s vulnerability is at its most severe. With both winter and the COVID-19 pandemic adding to the misery of living under foreign military dictatorship, Bedouin are at increasing risk of forcible transfer.
Despite these crimes having triggered a joint visit to the village on 5 February by the West Bank Protection Consortium, partnered by five international NGOs, 11 European donors and EU Humanitarian Aid, the news media and many politicians have chosen to remain quiet. Most of the pastoral land, upon which the Bedouin made their living, has been seized by Israel and registered as, what the Zionist state calls, ‘state land‘. On this land, Israel has built many Jewish-only settlements, dismissing Bedouin communities as ‘unrecognised’ and their residents as ‘invaders.’
Responding to an international call for Israel to halt the destruction, an ITN Channel 4 News video shows the suffering of the Bedouin community, with Israeli soldiers even upending and emptying the people’s precious drinking-water tanks. In the video, Jon Snow interview Ohad Zemet, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, whose evasiveness and inability to give straight answers amply illustrate Israel’s guilt. He claimed, for instance, that Israel acts with respect for international law, when he knows that The Fourth Geneva Convention expressly prohibits the transfer of settlers onto militarily-occupied land beyond Israel’s borders. He also dismisses the victims of Israel’s population transfer violence as “illegal squatters”, ignoring the reality that the Bedouin community have lived in the area long before Israel was even created.
Zemet excused the assault on the Bedouin community as having been justified by an Israeli Court but a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court acknowledged that, in one case at least, a settlement outpost had been unlawfully placed on private West Bank Palestinian land. That ruling overturned another 2018 District Court ruling that had said the land belonged to Israeli settlers. The Zionist regime’s legal system ties itself in knots in attempting to appear just and reasonable but no amount of intricate legal argument and representation can alter the fact that all Israeli settlements on belligerently-occupied Palestinian land are illegal, according to international law. As a precaution, I have obtained a copy of the video, which can still be seen on YouTube and the Global Herald.
Zionist contempt for international law
The US Library of Congress, dealing with Israel’s Law for the Regulation of Settlement in Judea and Samaria, 5777-2017, published the following argument that claimed Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank did not violate the Fourth Geneva Convention:
“ . . . both the text of that convention, and the post-World War II circumstances under which it was drafted, clearly indicate that it was never intended to refer to situations like Israel’s settlements. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Article 49 relates to situations where populations are coerced into being transferred. There is nothing to link such circumstances to Israel’s settlement policy.”
The truth is, that the ICRC makes no mention of ‘coercion’ in relation to the transfer of Israeli settlers from Israel into the West Bank; it simply states,“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” There is coercion, however, and it is perpetrated by Israel against the native people of Palestine. Under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel’s Bedouin victims are held to be “protected persons”. It is clearly stated that: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory” are prohibited.
UN calls upon Israel to respect international law
A recent UN call to the international community reminds us that this war crime began in the 1970s, with Israel declaring some 18% of the West Bank to be ‘firing zones‘ for the Israeli Army. It further reports that: “Since 2009, an estimated 7,400 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been destroyed, leaving more than 11,000 people displaced, some more than once.”
From 4-14 February (inclusive) 14 Palestinian youngsters, aged 14–17 years were abducted, with Israeli Occupation forces making 168 raids on West Bank villages, towns and UN refugee camps. With many raids carried out at night, 39 of them involved home invasions. Over the same period, there were 30 Israeli Gaza ceasefire violations, including military incursions, in spite of the fact that there were no Palestinian ceasefire violations. Overall, Israel committed 51 acts of agricultural and economic sabotage and destroyed 16 Palestinian homes, as well as ordering the destruction of another 23. The land-grabbing tyranny is relentless, with Israeli Occupation forces issuing, on 14 February, yet another land seizure order – this time for the establishment of 66 new housing units in the Oranit Occupation settlement.
The Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem (Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), expresses the outrage felt by many at the crimes against humanity committed by Zionism in the name of worldwide Jewry. B’Tselem says it “strives to end Israel’s occupation, recognising that this is the only way to achieve a future that ensures human rights, democracy, liberty and equality to all people . . .” As part of an informative article, This is Apartheid, B’Tselem summarises, in a single paragraph, clearly and accurately, the threat that pursuit of the ideology’s objectives represents to humanity, global security and international law:
“Divide, separate, rule”
“In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. A key method in pursuing this goal is engineering space differently for each group. Jewish citizens live as though the entire area were a single space (excluding the Gaza Strip). The Green Line means next to nothing for them: whether they live west of it, within Israel’s sovereign territory, or east of it, in settlements not formally annexed to Israel, is irrelevant to their rights or status. Where Palestinians live, on the other hand, is crucial. The Israeli regime has divided the area into several units that it defines and governs differently, according Palestinians different rights in each. This division is relevant to Palestinians only. The geographic space, which is contiguous for Jews, is a fragmented mosaic for Palestinians . . .”