Israeli forces demolish tents and other buildings belonging to Bedouins in the hamlet of Khirbet Humsa in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, July 7, 2021. MAJDI MOHAMMED/AP
On September 21, the Israeli army entered the Bedouin village of Ein Samiya in the rocky hills near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, destroying two houses there. The school, built with European help and inaugurated in January, is also under threat: on August 10, an Israeli court ordered its demolition, arguing that it had been built without a permit – Israel almost never issues one. the 60% of the West Bank that he fully controls. Immediately afterwards, European diplomats rushed to protest. “The continued practice of demolitions and evictions in Area C and in occupied East Jerusalem violates international humanitarian law and must be stopped,” European Union (EU) Representative Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff said in a statement, accompanied by a beautiful group photo of the representatives, one behind the other under the blazing sun.
Israel regularly destroys structures financed with European tax money without ever being sanctioned. Between November 2020 and July 2021, Khirbet Humsa, a Bedouin village in the northern Jordan Valley, was partially or totally destroyed seven times by the Israeli army. Each time the Europeans rebuilt, then the army came to put everything on the ground under the pretext that the hamlet is on a firing zone. “Around 200 buildings were destroyed in eight months,” recalls Christopher Holt, director of the West Bank Protection Consortium, an alliance of five international NGOs that is supported by the EU, among others. The Palestinians eventually left and settled right next to the original site of Khirbet Humsa.
“Every year between 2017 and 2021 we see an increase in property destruction,” reports Christopher Holt. Since January, more than 650 buildings housing some 750 Palestinians have been demolished by Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem; just over 13% was funded by donors, mainly from European countries. Between the fines, the cost of the demolitions that Palestinians must bear themselves, and the impact on access to education or health, the overall economic impact of the demolitions is difficult to assess.
Application for compensation
Since 2000, the EU has provided more than €852 million in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, partly to fund civilian needs, which are guaranteed by international law but cannot be met by the Israeli occupation. In 2014, European countries gathered in the Council of the EU pledged to “systematically protest against any demolition/seizure involving projects funded by the EU or a member state” and to engage in dialogue with the Israelis on the issue. If no results are found, the EU will require Israel to “return or compensate property that has been destroyed and/or confiscated.” At the end of 2017, at the instigation of Belgium, eight Member States, including France, wrote in a letter demanding the reimbursement of more than 30,000 euros after the destruction and confiscation of solar energy production facilities. Since then, European countries have regularly demanded compensation in vain.
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