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(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Fresh evidence of how Volvo bulldozers damage farms, uproot families

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Israeli forces use a Volvo machine for new demolitions in the South Hebron Hills on 14 January.

(Operation Dove)

My recent report on the use of Volvo equipment on the demolition of a mosque and two homes by Israeli forces prompted readers to send me information about other demolitions.

The photo above shows the Volvo machine that Israeli forces used for demolitions in the Palestinian villages of Umm al-Kheer and Hawara in the South Hebron Hills on 14 January. Click here to watch a video. I received the following report from an eyewitness:

On the morning of 14 January, the IDF  [Israel Defense Forces] demolished four structures in the Palestinian villages of Um al-Kheer and Hawara, South Hebron Hills, West Bank. At 8.55 am the Israeli army, Border Police and DCO [District Coordination Office] broke into Um al-Kheer village with two bulldozers (Volvo and JCB) and destroyed a stone and metal shelter for sheep. According to the villagers, a family composed of eight people was living in this shelter because the bad weather damaged their house-tent last week. After that, the military convoy went to Hawara village and demolished three buildings: a regular house inhabited by 15 people, a summer house inhabited by nine people for seven months a year and a small stone structure. On their way, the bulldozers caused heavy damages to fields of olives and wheat.

One year ago, a Volvo bulldozer was used to demolish two houses in Um al-Kheer, leaving an elderly couple and a mother and her nine children homeless.

Forced displacement 

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A Volvo machine used in a demolition in al-Khalyala during April last year.

The Electronic Intifada obtained the above photo which shows the Volvo machine that was used by Israeli forces to demolish the Palestinian village of al-Khalayla on 18 April 2012. The village is situated in the occupied West Bank next to the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev. The International Committee of the Red Cross immediately provided the six displaced families with emergency shelter kits. However, Israeli forces dismantled and confiscated the emergency shelters the following day, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In its “humanitarian monitor” briefing for November-December 2012 OCHA states:

In November 2012, six Palestinian families from the al-Khalayla Bedouin community were finally forced to leave their homes after a series of demolitions and other pressures to leave their area. These families have been living for more than 35 years in what is now a barrier enclave northwest of Jerusalem [al-Khalayla, next to the Givat Zeev settlement bloc]. Their displacement this month occurred after multiple demolition waves, as well as repeated demands by the ICA [Israeli Civil Administration, a military body which oversees the occupation of the West Bank] for the community to relocate.

The al-Khalayla community belongs to the Jahhalin tribe and comprises seven households, totaling 23 adults and 35 children, all of whom are registered refugees from the Naqab [Negev], now in southern Israel. The families rely on raising livestock and employment in nearby Israeli settlements as their primary income source. The al-Khalayla site belongs to a family from the nearby al-Jib village, with whom the community has an agreement.

Volvo knows

Meanwhile, I found that Volvo can track the movement of its equipment with the CareTrack facility which is advertized on the firm’s website as providing:

the knowledge and information you need to make the right decisions and to increase profitability. All you need to do is log in to your password-protected web site, where you get both an overview and detailed information about your machines.

In addition, Volvo mentions the advantages that “you can lock in the machine in a geographic area where it should operate,” and that “you always know where the machines are.”

Volvo should display its commitment to its own code of conduct and UN human rights guidelines by using CareTrack to prevent its machines from being used by the Israeli occupation.