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Democrats ask Pompeo if Israel used US equipment to destroy Palestinian village

Dozens of Democratic members of Congress ask Mike Pompeo to probe whether Israel used US military equipment to demolish Khirbet Humsa on election night
Congressman Mark Pocan and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal signed onto the letter sent to Pompeo
Congressman Mark Pocan and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal signed onto the letter sent to Pompeo (AFP/File photo)
By in
Washington

Dozens of Democratic members of Congress are calling on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to condemn the Israeli government's demolition of a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank and investigate whether American military equipment was used in the operation.

"Creeping annexation cannot be a policy that the U.S. government supports if we wish to see peace in the region," said the letter, spearheaded by Congressman Mark Pocan and signed by 40 others on Tuesday.

"This single act was the largest Israeli displacement of Palestinians in four years, behavior only made possible by continued silence from the American government," it said.

"In addition to requesting that the State Department condemn this violation of international law, we also wish to know if American-sourced military equipment was used in the recent Israeli government displacements of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Homsa al-Baquia (Khirbet Humsa)."

On 3 November, the night of the US election, the Israeli government demolished the Palestinian Bedouin hamlet of Khirbet Humsa, home to 74 Palestinians, including 41 children.

Israeli forces razed 18 tents and sheds that housed 11 families, as well as 29 tents and sheds used as livestock enclosures.

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"We were about to have lunch when bulldozers suddenly arrived, at 11 in the morning. Military jeeps and soldiers, they surrounded us," Aisha Abu Awad, a 56-year-old resident told Middle East Eye at the time.

"We stood there and we cried, but what could we do?" she asked, as she described watching bulldozers tear down her home, her family's livestock pen, and their water tanks, as she stood out in the rain. 

According to Israeli human rights group B'tselem, Israeli forces also destroyed more than 30 tonnes of fodder for livestock, and confiscated a vehicle and two tractors belonging to three of the residents.

"The need for engagement by the US government is particularly urgent due to the renewed threat of demolition against the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar and the possibility that several additional villages in the region of Masafer Yatta will be demolished," the letter read.

Pompeo is heading to Israel this week, where he will be visiting an illegal Israeli settlement in the Palestinian West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights, both of which are occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.

Pompeo's visit comes exactly one year after he said the US did not consider Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal, putting Washington at odds with UN Security Council resolutions.

Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 and aimed to annex the West Bank in July, before postponing the plan amid US-led normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain. 

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has denounced the visit, calling it a "dangerous precedent".