By EA Liz, Southern West Bank
On 15 November, while demolishing a tent and a house, officials from the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) took photographs of all the structures in the lower part of the village of Umm al-Khair.
The residents said that this was likely to mean another visit from the ICA. They were right. Just a few days later, on 20 November, they were back with the Israeli army to hand out 12 ‘stop work’ orders to villagers. ‘Stop work’ orders are the first step before demolition orders are issued.
The Carmel settlement is illegal under international law but it has expanded so much that it now touches the village of Umm al-Khair. The expansion of settlements often results in the destruction of Palestinian properties.
Hamid, 19, shows us the 15 residential structures affected by the ‘stop work’ orders. The buildings house around 150 people, of whom 75 are children – that’s just about everyone in this part of the village.
Hamid’s family home is 20 years old, so work stopped on this a long time ago. Due process demands an enforcement of the order, however, and demolition is the second and final stage. Hamid’s mother appears shaken and despairing at the thought of losing the family home.
“The community centre was a good building”, Hamid tells us. “Everyone used it and we miss having it.”
Hamid is planning to study either English or History. “Where will you go if the bulldozers come and demolish your home along with most of your village?” we ask.
“I will be under the stones,” says Hamid. “I will never leave this land.”
Tell your elected representative about the demolitions that threaten the people of Umm al-Khair.
Remind your elected representative that:
- The destruction or demolition of private and public property by the Occupying Power is prohibited under Articles 53 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and under Article 23 of the 1907 Hague Regulations.
- Between 2010–2014 only 5% of Palestinian planning applications were approved, so the new buildings they need have almost no chance of getting permission from the Israeli authorities.
Ask your representative to contact the Foreign Office and urge the British Government to support the people of Umm al-Khair in their struggle to stay on their land and in their homes.