First, I send our condolences and solidarity to Saeb Erekat, who was an international spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority and who passed away a number of days ago. Our solidarity is with Mr. Erekat's family.
I wish to quote from a statement made last week by the Minister, Deputy Coveney, a colleague of the Minister of State's, Deputy Byrne, on the demolitions of a Bedouin town in the West Bank. I will not quote it in full but I will quote extensive parts of it. The Minister stated:
I am deeply dismayed to learn of the demolition by Israeli authorities on 3 November of more than 70 structures, belonging to 11 Palestinian families in the community of Humsa Al Bqai'a in the northern Jordan Valley. These demolitions include residential, livelihood and sanitation facilities.
The eviction of families and demolition of their homes is a brutal and violent act. These most vulnerable of people should be protected by the occupation authorities, not subject to further injustice.
This week's destruction of the ... [village] is a further acceleration of confiscations and demolitions this year, despite previous commitments from Israeli authorities...
The Minister further stated, in response to a question Deputy Costello asked about demolitions that were ongoing in the West Bank, and again it is quite a long answer so I will read out only a slight part of it: "The only possible conclusion we can draw from the systematic nature of these policies, especially in areas where illegal...settlements have already been constructed, is that they are aimed at forcing Palestinians off their land." It is quite an extraordinary statement by the Minister.
The photo I am holding shows some of the evidence of the bulldozing last week of the Bedouin village, with 80 Palestinians being left homeless. If one looks at this picture very carefully, it says, "Humanitarian Support to Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer in the West Bank." It can be seen that the structure is completely destroyed. If one looks very carefully, one will see the logos of agencies of a number of countries that have donated these materials to the most vulnerable people in Palestine. One of the countries is Ireland; the logo of Irish Aid can be seen.
There is no depth of cruelty that Israel will not go to in displacing people, which is an international crime by any standards. There is a pattern here because this has been going on for decades. Israel has been clearing people from particularly around the Jordan Valley, buildings in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and so forth. More Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have lost their homes in the first ten months of this year alone than in any full year since 2016. As I said, this is a forcible transfer of people who are vulnerable and now homeless, and Covid-19 hangs over these people as well. It is quite incredible to think that these materials that were funded by the European Union are literally bulldozed over and that there are no consequences for the state of Israel. Most people would say there has to be a consequence for a state doing this to taxpayers' money and government money, but there does not seem to be any consequences. I know the Government has issued a statement on moneys that it will want to be compensated by the state of Israel, €625,000 between compensation from previous demolitions and compensation arising from confiscations by the Israeli authorities.
There is lip service and platitudes regarding Israel. It is treated very differently from any other state. First, what is the Minister of State going to do? Second, has he called the Israeli ambassador in on this issue?