The Israeli army has increased efforts to force Palestinian villagers out of the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank, by destroying villagers’ homes and restricting their movement and access to water. Humsa and Hadidiya, two hamlets in the north of the Jordan Valley, are among the targeted villages. More than 100 villagers, most of them children, risk losing their homes and being forced out of the area.
On 13 August 2007, and again on 23 August, several homes and animal pens were destroyed by the Israeli army in Humsa. The families of Abdallah Hsein Bisharat and Ahmad Abdallah Bani Odeh were made homeless. Most of the 40-plus people affected are children.
Last April, the villagers were forced to move from Hadidiya to Humsa, about one kilometre away, after the Israeli army threatened to destroy their homes. Threats of destruction and further displacement continued. The army considers the site a "closed military area" to be used for shooting practice by Israeli forces.
The villagers rebuilt their tents and animal pens but live in fear that the army's bulldozers may return at any time. In the meantime, they continue to be denied access to water and their movements are increasingly restricted by military checkpoints and blockades that prevent them from using the main roads in the area.
The Israeli army has declared most of the Jordan Valley a "closed military area" from which the local Palestinian population is barred. However, Israeli settlements -- established in violation of international law -- continue to expand and Israeli settlers are allowed to move freely and use vast quantities of water.
In Humsa and Hadidiya, every single home is slated for destruction and the Palestinian villagers have to bring water for their basic needs from 20 kilometres away. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements only a few hundreds of meters away have well-watered gardens and swimming pools.
In a visit to the area in July 2007, an Amnesty International researcher witnessed the extremely difficult conditions in which the Palestinian villagers are forced to live, with no running water or electricity. They are no longer able to cultivate their land because they have no water to irrigate their crops.
If the Palestinian villagers, who live off agriculture and sheep and goat herding, continue to be denied access to water they will not be able to survive in the area.