Thursday, October 30, 2008

Home Demolitions at Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills

The following is from Christian Peacemaker Teams:

AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Home Demolitions at Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills
29 October, 2008

At 9:10 am on the morning of Wednesday 29 October, 2008, the Israeli military demolished 10 dwellings in the Palestinian village of Um al Kher, in the South Hebron Hills, leaving around 60 people, including young children, homeless.

The military arrived without warning shortly after 9am with a bulldozer. They gave the villagers little time to remove their possessions before demolishing four stone homes and six metal dwellings. Um al Kher is situated close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Karmel and the demolished homes were those closest to the settlement.

Palestinians and internationals from At-Tuwani attempted to reach Um al Kher in order to prevent or at least witness the demolitions. The Israeli military stopped their vehicle on Route 317, and told them the area was a closed military zone. However, Israeli vehicles were allowed to travel freely in both directions.

By 11 am the villagers were left with the wreckage of their destroyed homes. At 11:40 there was a heavy downpour of rain and the villagers rushed to move their possessions into the cover of their friends tented homes.

A villager told CPT, “The children are not here, they were frightened and ran away.” Another villager, a 21 year old social work university graduate, told how relieved she was that her mother had been out with the goats when her home was demolished. The young woman had complained to an Israeli military officer that a soldier threatened to hit her. The officer’s response was, “If he went to hit you that’s nice. If he hit you, it’s very nice.”

A young mother, holding her baby as she sat outside a neighbour’s tent, said, “My baby in rain. Where my baby sleep?”

Within an hour of the army’s departure assistance arrived in the form of CARE International, International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations Works and Relief Agency. The latter will supply blankets and kitchen utensils. At present the villagers know of no organization able to help them rebuild their homes.

ACTION

These homes were demolished in violation of article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. We urge you to write to the Israeli Embassy or Consulate in your home country to demand an
explanation of:

· Why were these homes demolished?
· Why did the military choose to demolish them at the start of the winter rainy season?
· Where will the young woman’s baby and the other villagers sleep?

Photos of the demolished homes can be viewed at http://cpt.org/ gallery/Israeli- military- demolish- Um-al-Kher- homes

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