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ICC mulls investigating Israel's demolition of Palestinian hamlet in Jordan Valley

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows desperate inhabitants of Khirbet Humsa village in the Jordan Valley.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is weighing the possibility of launching an investigation into the demolition of homes and displacement of dozens of Palestinians in a hamlet in the Jordan Valley.

In a report on Thursday, the Palestinian Information Center said that the ICC prosecutor’s office plans to know what happened to the ill-fated village of Khirbet Humsa.

The investigation will be in response to a petition titled "Israel Practices a War Crime" by the Combatants for Peace organization, which is composed of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters joined together to end the occupation and achieve reconciliation.

The petition recounted an incident that occurred last month when Israeli forces demolished homes and residential structures and confiscated the belongings of some 60 Palestinians in the hamlet, situated in an area that the Israeli military deliberately declared as Firing Zone 903.

It was the third demolition campaign of this kind by Israeli authorities in a single year.

According to villagers, Israeli authorities told the inhabitants of Khirbet Humsa that if they moved 15 kilometers westward, they would be able to get back the things that had been confiscated from them, but they turned down the offer for an alternative site.

“While military forces are acting to expel the shepherd community in Khirbet Humsa, they were able to find creative solutions for settlers living in and near Firing Zone 903, which shows that the need for ‘training’ is just an excuse to make demographic changes,” Combatants for Peace said in its ICC appeal.

The Israeli military “issued demolition orders and has destroyed the residents’ temporary structures, confiscated their meager belongings, and has put them under immense pressure to voluntarily move somewhere else,” it added.

According to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, some 2,700 people live in almost 20 shepherding communities in areas declared by the Israeli military as firing zones or adjacent to them in the Jordan Valley.

Inhabitants of Khirbet Humsa, who mainly work as shepherds, come from the village of As Samu in the southern parts of the occupied West Bank. They came to the northern Jordan Valley in the 1970s, as areas available for shepherding started to shrink or water sources were closed due to the Israeli military restrictions and settlement construction, the report said.

After the 1948 war, many families from As Samu lost their lands, which ended up being under Israeli control behind the so-called Green Line.

Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley are subjected to demolitions by Israeli authorities who claim they lack building permits, despite the fact that the Tel Aviv regime does not provide such permits to Palestinians.

Moreover, Israel orders Palestinians to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition price to the municipality if they refuse to tear down their houses. Palestinians as well as the international community consider Israeli demolition politics in the occupied territories as illegal.


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