Palestinian family left homeless after Israeli forces occupy home as military post

18:00 Aug 13 2016 Harmala

Palestinian family left homeless after Israeli forces occupy home as military post
A Palestinian family home in Hebron's Old City occupied by the Israeli army as a military base. Aug. 2014 (Lily Leach/MaanImages)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces expelled a Palestinian family of 10 from their home in the village of Harmala in the southern occupied West Bank Saturday evening, in order to use the house as an Israeli military post.

Homeowner Muhammad Sbeih told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers ransacked his two-story home and forcibly seized the keys.

The soldiers, he added, expelled the family by a "military order," telling them to find another place to live.

The family of ten, including multiple children, has now been rendered homeless.

An Israeli commander reportedly told Sbeih that the Israeli army would use the house as a military post to prevent local youth from throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles travelling on the main road.

The house is located on the outskirts of the village along the main road to the Palestinian village of Tuqu, which leads to the illegal Israeli settlement of Teqoa.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately confirm the expulsion and told Ma'an they were looking into the matter.

Harmala is a small Palestinian village located southeast of the city of Bethlehem, and like 60 percent of the occupied West Bank, it is located in Area C, where Israel retains full control over security and civil administration.

Under the jurisdiction of Area C, residents suffer under arbitrary policies of land classification, where they may not utilize any of their lands for building or farming in the areas without having proper authorization from the Israeli army.

Area C residents are also under constant threat of having their homes and businesses demolished at any moment, as obtaining Israeli-issued construction licenses for any sort of structure is virtually impossible.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel only granted 33 building permits out of 2,020 applications submitted by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.

It is also not uncommon for Israeli forces to forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes for the use of military posts.

Middle East Monitor reported at least three instances in 2016 in the occupied West Bank when Israeli forces used Palestinian family homes as military posts, the common factor in each of the cases being the proximity of the Palestinian homes, like the Sbeih's home, to Israeli settlements.

In June Israeli forces took over 11 Palestinian homes in the Huwwara village in the northern West Bank district of Nablus to use as temporary military sites, after an empty settler bus was reportedly attacked with “steel balls” near Huwwara.

Under the Israeli laws regulating Area C, Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the West Bank in the first six months of 2016 as they did in all of 2015, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed in a report released recently, in a worrying confirmation of Israel’s ongoing crackdown on Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank.

The events on Saturday left the Sbeih family among the nearly 740 Palestinians who have been made homeless by Israeli authorities in 2016, compared to all of 2015, when 125 homes were demolished, leaving 496 Palestinians without a home.
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