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More demolitions in Khirbet Tana

10 February 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

The village of Khirbet Tana, near Beit Furik, Nablus region, once again faced Israeli bulldozers yesterday. Several structures, including homes and animal shelters were demolished when the army arrived with six jeeps and two bulldozers. No notice was given of the destruction.

The villagers have been through this many times, the last time only a month ago. They will not be deterred though, and each time they set about rebuilding; Fozan Mousa Esai, an old farmer, says that he will rebuild his shelter for around two hundred sheep once again. He will, however, have to
sell some of them to be able to do it.

Villager stands by the site of the demolition

Many of Khirbet Tana’s population, originally consisting of some 60 families, have fled to Beit Furik, on whose lands Khirbet Tana resides. Israeli efforts to ethnically cleanse the area of its Palestinian
population dates back to the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the situation worsening considerably since the Oslo Accords zoning scheme of 1994 deemed the entire region Area C, under full Israeli control. The village was demolished for the first time in 2005, when Israeli bulldozers razed 14 homes, 18 animal sheds and 6 animal stores to the ground, leaving only the ancient mosque standing. Using bureaucracy as a weapon, Israeli authorities then banned residents from building permanent structures on the site of their former homes by refusing to issue the necessary permits. Ramshackle tents and prefabricated structures now dot the hillsides of Khirbet Tana, as residents are forced to adopt an almost Bedouin lifestyle, fearing instant demolition at the first attempt to lay concrete or stone.

Israeli bulldozers visited Khirbet Tana a second time in May 2008, once again leaving only rubble in their wake. An objection then filed by residents to the Israeli High Court of Justice resulted in the final, non-objectionable decision to demolish all structures in Khirbet Tana and evict its entire population from their lands. This was carried out on 10 January 2010, when all 25 structures remaining in the village were once again flattened by the bulldozers of the occupation forces, including the school. Neighbouring agricultural communities such as Twiyel, east of Aqraba village, have suffered similar attacks in recent months.

Khirbet Tana’s remaining population ekes out a precarious existence in the isolated hills between Beit Furik and the Jordan Valley. Like Fursa Hanina, those who stay are determined to hold rightful claim to their land in the face of Israel’s bureaucratic and military machine, and its efforts to ethnically cleanse Palestine’s rural population.