Jan 15, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

Congressman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) called for the US to defund Israel due to what she defined as “ethnic cleansing.” 

On Friday, Omar tweeted a reaction to the news that Israel had demolished illegally built structures in Khirbet Humsah, also known as Humsah Al Bqai’a, located in Samaria in the Jordan Valley. 

“This a grave crime—in direct violation of international law,” Omar wrote. “If they used any US equipment it also violates US law. An entire community is now homeless and will likely experience lifelong trauma. The United States of America should not be bankrolling ethnic cleansing. Anywhere.”

 

The Jordan Valley is in Area C, under Israeli security and civilian control according to the 1995 Oslo Accords. According to the agreements, Israel is responsible for planning and construction in the area.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) confirmed that the Israeli government had removed seven tents and eight animal pens which were illegally constructed in an area that was declared an IDF live-fire range in 1972. The legally mandated demolition displaced 73 Bedouin.  Israeli military law forbids the expulsion of permanent residents from a firing zone however the High Court ruled that Khirbet Husmah’s residents did not reside in the area on a permanent basis.

“The petitioners have no recognized property rights in these areas. These are intruders who use these areas for grazing,” the High Court ruled.“The construction in the area has not been authorized and is illegal.” 

Some of the equipment had reportedly been purchased with European funding.

“The enforcement was carried out in accordance with the authorities and procedures, and subject to operational considerations,” a COGAT spokesman said. 

Yvonne Helle, a humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in the Palestinian territories, said that relief agencies had visited Khirbet Humsah and recorded 76 demolished structures, “more than in any other single demolition in the past decade.”

The demolition was carried out on Monday and according to media reports, all of the Bedouin residents returned Thursday morning using tents donated by Palestinian aid groups, according to a Reuters witness.

The report cited by Omar labeled the misplaced Bedouin as “Palestinian” a classification that is misleading and perhaps inaccurate. 

 

Bedouins are a subgroup within the Arab minority in the State of Israel, with cultural, historical, social and political uniqueness. Many Palestinians do not consider the Bedouin to be Palestinian, and elements within the Negev/Naqab Bedouin do not consider themselves Palestinian. Very few Muslim Israeli Arabs serve in the IDF but many Bedouin do serve, distinguishing themselves in combat units. In recent years, many Bedouin have begun to self-identify as Palestinians in order to gain access to foreign funding. 

In 2019, Ihan Omar was voted one of the top three anti-Semites of the year by the NGO stopantisemitism.org based on comments she made and political actions she advocated. 

 

The NGO also cited refusal to take back or regret many of her antisemitic comments, as well as the backing she receives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In March 2019, Omar came under fire for perpetuating an anti-Semitic trope by accusing American Jews of having an “allegiance to a foreign country.” Senator Kamala Harris, now the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, silenced criticism of Omar, saying it endangered her as a woman-of-color.