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Bedouin community homes demolished

June 20, 2011 5:04 P.M. (Updated: June 22, 2011 9:41 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli bulldozers destroyed several tin homes and animal shelters Monday, in the Bedouin herding hamlet of Khirbet Bir Al-Idd.

The demolitions, which left 60 men, women and children displaced, were said by Israel's Civil Administration to be "routine implementation of the law concerning illegal building," with a spokesman saying the homes lacked the necessary permits.

Now homeless, Khirbet Bir Al-Idd resident Ziyad Muhammad Younis Makhamra told Ma'an that the community had received notice two years earlier from the Israeli High Court saying they could return to the land in the south Hebron hills.

The extended family returned, set up eight shelters for themselves and their livestock, and resumed working the lands.

Historically, the farmers had lived in natural caves in the hills. Makhamra said the residents were being forced back into life in the caves following the demolitions.

The residents have been repeatedly affected by Israeli activity in the southern West Bank. Makhamra said the community once had access to some 2,000 dunums of land, but 90 percent was confiscated for the construction of illegal settler outpost Mitzpe Yair, located just south of the Suseya settlement.

"They allowed the settlers there to build stone houses," he said, noting that much of the land where flocks used to graze had been declared a closed military zone.

Khirbet Bir Al-Idd is the latest in a series of Bedouin villages which have been targeted with demolitions over the past months. On June 14 the Jordan Valley Bedouin community of Fasayil saw 10 homes demolished. In March tent homes were demolished near Tubas, and homes in the same area were targeted with demolitions in April, and later in the month shepherd dwellings in the northern valley were also taken down.

A report released by the Israeli rights group B'Tselem in May accused Israel of unjustly dominating the land, water resources and even tourist sites in the Jordan Valley area, in what was described as a prelude to a de facto annexation of territory.

"Israel has instituted a regime that massively exploits the resources of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea, far more than elsewhere in the West Bank, demonstrating its intention; to de facto annex the area to the state of Israel," a B'Tselem statement said.
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