JERUSALEM, September 21, 2013 (WAFA) – The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley Friday expressed “deep concern” at Israeli army obstruction of attempts to provide humanitarian assistance to a Palestinian Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley whose homes were demolished by the army last week, according to a press release.
An Israeli force seized a vehicle carrying tents from an international humanitarian organization destined for the community of Khirbet Makhoul, where 48 Palestinians, including 16 children, “were in urgent need of emergency shelter following repeated demolitions this week by the Israeli authorities,” said the press release.
The force also confronted members of the humanitarian and diplomatic communities who were present on site, including a French diplomat who was snatched out of the truck and dragged on the ground in what diplomats described as a breach of international law and diplomatic codes.
The soldiers used excessive force to arrest residents of Khirbet Makhoul and activists who were trying to set up tents to replace the destroyed homes for the 120 displaced members of the Bedouin community. They also seized the international aid trucks and their contents.
“The United Nations and its partners remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to populations in immediate need,” said Rawley.
“The international humanitarian community would continue efforts to mitigate the humanitarian impact, including displacement and loss of livelihoods, of demolitions which have been on the rise over recent months in the West Bank,” he added.
Rawley called on the Israeli authorities “to live up to their obligations as occupying power to protect those communities under their responsibility, including to halt demolitions of Palestinian homes and property.”
He said that “the displacement of a whole Palestinian community in the occupied Palestinian territory is a very disappointing development at such a delicate moment where we look forward to positive measures on the ground.”
A new report by the Negotiations Affairs Department said the various Israeli governments have had their eye on the Jordan Valley, which it described as “the breadbasket for the future Palestinian state” due to its large water reserves, rich agricultural land and importance for tourism, and which makes up almost 30% of the area of the West Bank, since its occupation in June 1967.