Israeli bulldozers demolish West Bank Bedouin homes

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The Israeli military on Wednesday bulldozed the homes of four families of Bedouins in the eastern West Bank Governorate of Jericho.

A spokesperson for the Israeli ministry of defense unit coordinating policy for the West Bank told Reuters on the telephone that the buildings were illegal and lacked the permits deemed necessary by the Jewish state.

But village leader Ibrahim Khamees Abu Dahouk says Israel has targeted them for decades, “They started their attack against us a long, long time ago. They closed off our way to the water, they closed off areas where we used to live, and they made us enter cities, despite what we wanted. It's been a long time, not just today, some 20 to 30 years,” said Abu Dahouk.

On Thursday residents were putting up tents where their demolished homes once stood. But the families have been left with no other choice other than to sleep in makeshift shelters, with no heating or electricity,“The area where we are is a very cold area, our children are used to sleeping in proper rooms and last night they were very cold. It is cold at night. We had to start a fire so we can get warm. There is also no electricity since they [Israel] cut the electricity off from us, we used to have a generator they broke it and took it. So last night we hardly slept, our children did not sleep at all, because of the cold they could not sleep,” said Bedouin resident Jamal Abu Dahook.

The Bedouin say they are being forced to forgo many aspects of their traditional way of life which relies on land, livestock and tents. All have been targets of Israeli restrictions.

This Bedouin community consisting of 35 people is located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under Israeli control and where most Jewish settlements are located.

European Union ministers have criticized Israel for forcing some Bedouin communities to leave their land in Area C, adding that economic life for Palestinians in the territory had to be improved.

Israel retains military authority and full control over building and planning in Area C. Up to 70 percent of it is off-limits for Palestinians, classified as Israeli settlement areas, firing zones, or nature reserves, say non-governmental organizations.

In the remaining 30 percent there are restrictions that reduce the possibility for Palestinians to get building permits.