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Jordan Valley families left homeless

June 23, 2011 11:08 A.M. (Updated: June 24, 2011 6:46 P.M.)
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- "The big soldier wouldn’t speak to me. He just said ‘This is my job, sit down and shut up’," the newly homeless Ralia Darraghmeh, a diabetes sufferer in her sixties said of the one of the crew who had come to demolish her home Tuesday morning.

She was sitting alone, crying in Khirbet Yarza, a tiny Bedouin hamlet, as her tin home was taken down by order of Israel's Civil Administration, which governs planning and permit issuing in the 60 percent of the West Bank categorized as Area C under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

According to an observer from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, 30 people, including 8 children were affected by the demolitions.

The Darraghmeh family represent almost all of the residents of the hamlet. The eldest son of the group had planned to get married in July, but his brother said the goods and savings that would have supported the marriage were buried underneath the debris of their home.

"I really don’t care about my suffering, but what about the children?" asked another of the elder sons in the family as he surveyed the damage.

With their belongings strewn in the rubble, the men, women and children of the hamlet began gathering up their goods, salvaging what was possible, and trying to decide where to go.

The family said they were warned by the army that the soldiers would return if the family remained in the area or received humanitarian assistance.

According to a report from the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, home demolitions in the first six months of 2011 displaced 706 individuals, including 341 minors.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Thursday condemning the house demolitions. In an urgent appeal action, the organization demanded that the Israeli authorities place a moratorium on house demolitions and forced evictions in the West Bank.

The statement also called for planning and building regulations in the Jordan Valley, and elsewhere in the occupied territories, to be the sole responsibility of local Palestinian communities.

With reporting from Hilary Minch, an observer with EAPPI.
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