JERUSALEM, September 26, 2013 (WAFA) – The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) Thursday said “deliberate unlawful forced transfer of a population is a war crime.”
HRW was referring to the Israeli military’s demolition of all the homes in Khirbet Makhoul Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley on September 16, which displaced at least 100 people.
Four attempts by the community to rebuild their homes failed as soldiers came back and re-demolished them including a one time in which the soldiers attacked a French diplomat for attempting to provide humanitarian aid to the community.
The Israeli Supreme Court issued on Tuesday a temporary injunction, preventing the military from “transferring the [residents] from their village and demolishing the structures in the village,” unless demolitions were “required by imminent military needs and by clear operational security considerations.”
The ruling gave the Israeli authorities until October 8 to show a valid legal cause to justify demolishing the structures in the community.
“The Israeli military should end its unjustified attempts to forcibly remove a decades-old community,” said Joe Stork, acting HRW Middle East director. “Israeli forces didn’t just rough up diplomats, they demolished every single building in Makhoul and ordered the residents to leave and never come back.”
As well as halting all demolitions in Khirbet Makhoul, the Israeli military should permit humanitarian assistance, and allow the community to rebuild, Human Rights Watch said.
The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits “[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers” of civilians within an occupied territory “regardless of their motive” except if carried out for the safety of civilians during hostilities or for imperative military reasons, it said.
Even when such forced transfer is permitted, it must be temporary and the residents allowed to return as soon as possible.
“Deliberately violating this prohibition is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and is prosecutable as a war crime,” said HRW.