The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague has added the multiple demolitions of the Palestinian Bedouin herding village of Khirbet Humsa in the Jordan Valley to the war crimes file being compiled against Israel’s army of occupation.
The ICC took this step after receiving detailed information from the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement Combatants for Peace on the various demolitions which have taken place over time in the small hamlet of tents and shacks. The office of the new ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, responded to Combatants for Peace last Wednesday, August 18.
The former ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, had opened a war crimes probe into Israeli actions in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from June 13, 2014 and onwards. Her replacement, Khan, is now tasked with the probe that includes demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel’s military, including at Khirbet Humsa.
The Israeli army has argued that the tents and shacks of Khirbet Humsa are illegal and are located in a firing zone. It has taken multiple evictions in the past years to expel residents, this over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, the Joint List, Israeli peace movements and the international community, including the European Union, whose local diplomats have visited the site.
The attorney for Combatants for Peace, Eitay Mack, informed the ICC that the residents of Khirbet Humsa have lived in that area since before the Israeli occupation in 1967. Mack provided the ICC with aerial photographs that showed the presence of the Palestinians in the area from 1980 to 2002. The Palestinians left the area briefly during the Second Intifada but returned, Mack explained. Settler presence in the firing zone area has not been treated in the same way by Israel’s occupation forces, Mack wrote.