Home Demolitions Leave Palestinian Families With Nothing
July 20, 2021
On 7 July, Israeli forces demolished 30 residential and livelihoods structures and water tanks in the community of Humsa al Baqai’a in the West Bank. As a result, six families - comprising 42 people including 24 children - have been displaced.
Two weeks on, they continue to live out in the open, unprotected by the sun in the day and the cold at night.
Their livestock - which constitutes the community’s main source of income - have also been left without food, water or shelter in temperatures that can reach up to 40°C in summer.
The news comes as a devastating blow to the work of War Child and other humanitarian aid organisations across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The demolition saw 17 structures previously provided by these organisations brought to the ground. Food parcels, clothes, hygiene materials and toys - also provided by War Child as part of our Fast Aid response - were confiscated.
The Israeli army continues to refuse access to humanitarian workers on the grounds that a military operation is ongoing. Several organisations managed to reach the community but were only given a few minutes to distribute basic items.
War Child Holland and Médecins du Monde providing humanitarian assistance following a previous demolition in the same community in February 2021.
Photo: Médecins du Monde
Lasting Psychological Trauma
A mother from Humsa who lost her home told a War Child case manager: “Since the demolition my 6-year-old son wets the bed. Every time an army jeep passes by, he starts panicking and screaming, thinking that the soldiers are coming back.”
On top of the trauma of the demolition itself, the resulting forced displacement squashes children’s sense of safety and leads to severe emotional distress. A recent study by Save the Children reveals that 80 per cent of Palestinian children consulted feel abandoned by the world and have lost faith in anyone - be it their parents, the authorities or the international community - to provide support and protect their rights.
A Matter of Urgency
Widely condemned by the humanitarian community and global human rights organisations, the latest wave of demolitions are particularly concerning in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Affected families are unable to self-isolate or exercise good hygiene, placing them at increased risk of infection.
“Children deserve to live in dignity”, says Maha El-Sheikh, War Child Country Director in oPt. “We call on the Israeli authorities to put an end to the demolitions and forced evictions of Palestinian families in Humsa and elsewhere, and to allow humanitarian workers to access the area as a matter of utmost urgency.”