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60 Palestinians homeless after Israel razes West Bank village for army training zone

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Some 60 Palestinians awoke Tuesday morning to the sound of bulldozers razing their West Bank village in the South Hebron Hills as the Israeli army cleared the grounds to expand a live-fire training zone, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem. The military demolished 22 structures in the herding community of Khirbet Jenbah, a ramshackle town with houses made of tin, tarp and stone. Thirty-two children were left homeless.

The community had been engaged in a lengthy legal fight against the demolitions since the year 2000. As part of a campaign to support the areas under threat the Israeli human rights group B’tselem conducted a series of interviews in 2013 with residents about the impending demolitions. Halimah Abu ‘Aram, 41, a mother of four and a herder with her husband in the village of Khirbet al-Majaz, nearby Khirbet Jenbah spoke with B’tselem  after being informed the injunction that had protected her house was going to be lifted.

“We have no school in the village because the military won’t let us build one. So our children have to walk to the school in al-Fakhit, which is about 10 kilometers away. They walk there and back in the cold and in the heat. We have no medical clinic. Once every two weeks, volunteer doctors come to al-Fakhit. Women, myself included, have to get there by foot. If someone is seriously ill, we have to take them by donkey or tractor over a grueling route. In the past, we used camels.


We heard that the Israeli military plans to evacuate the entire area, including our village, on the pretext that it is a military firing and training zone. This news frightened me. I can’t imagine what will become of us if the military carries out that decision. Where will we go?”

Khirbet Jenbah along with dozens of other hill sloped hamlets were first designated an army training area in the 1970s. At that time no effort was made to enforce the order. Then in 1999 around 700 Palestinians living within the 7,500 acres territory were forced out of their villages to make way for an area within this zone for “live-fire” exercises. A number of townships that fell outside of the live-fire zone, including Khirbet Jenbah, were left standing.

(Video: B’tselem)

The following year litigation began on the status on the land ownerships. Palestinians said it was theirs from before 1967 when Israel’s occupation of the West Bank began. In court Israel said it had the right to designate the track for army training. In 2000 a judge approved an injunction against demolishing the remaining five villages still intact inside of the training zone.

When the lengthy trial over the status of the land brought by the Palestinian homeowners against Israel collapsed in 2013, the military ordered the demolition these once protected homes with Khirbet Jenbah as the first. The demolitions were delayed until now while lawyers representing the families attempted to mediate an agreement to issue another stays of demolition. Those talks failed this week. 

(Map: B’tselem)

Located in Area C of the West Bank Khirbet Jenbah is subject to strict building permits issued at the discretion of the Israeli Civil Administration, the governing authority over sixty-percent of the West Bank where 300,000 Palestinians reside.

Palestinians are rarely granted approval to construct homes made of traditional building materials—stone, concrete and glass. In a special report on demolitions in Area C published last year the United Nations said from 2010-2014 only 1.5-percent of building permits for new construction were approved. As a result, Palestinians in Area C typically build without receiving the necessary documentation. Yet in doing so they are exposed to demolition. The same United Nations study found 77-percent of all Palestinian homes on land they privately owned inside of Area C have standing demolition notices.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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10 Responses

  1. JWalters on February 4, 2016, 7:56 pm

    America’s Zionist-controlled media won’t mention this despicable act. America is living under Israeli tyranny. Its freedom of speech is being crushed.

    • MaxNarr on February 5, 2016, 10:15 am

      Zionist controlled media? Please tell us more, expand on your views. This is going to be very interesting to hear.

      • Mooser on February 5, 2016, 2:41 pm

        “Zionist controlled media? Please tell us more, expand on your views. This is going to be very interesting to hear.”

        And there goes “MaxNarr”, bounding into the ‘no leash area’. And after that, ‘yo, for the cow-pasture! SQUELCH.

      • Kris on February 5, 2016, 2:55 pm

        Look it up, MaxNarr, and inform yourself, instead of trying to hijack the thread. Google is your friend.

      • Citizen on February 6, 2016, 5:21 am

        A good part of the recent primetime TV Hillary v Bernie (Ali vs Frazier) debate covered foreign policy, yet Israel was never mentioned.

  2. MaxNarr on February 4, 2016, 8:26 pm

    Hmm, Jews living in homes they legally purchased in Hebron = squatters

    Arabs living in ramshackle illegal structures are ‘natives’ that have been there thousands of years.

    Yup. No double standards to see here. Move along. lol

  3. Ossinev on February 5, 2016, 6:04 pm

    “Please tell us more, expand on your views.”

    I would be very interested to hear your views on the demolition which is after all the subject of the article. Feel free to expand at will.

    • MaxNarr on February 6, 2016, 10:11 am

      [..] It has to do with law and double standards.

      • Mooser on February 6, 2016, 12:51 pm

        “It has to do with law and double standards.”

        “MaxNarr” I am glad, very glad, to see the Moderators help you out. You are beginning to grasp it.

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