HUMSA, West Bank — Until last November, Fadwa Abu Awad’s mornings followed a familiar rhythm: The 42-year-old Palestinian herder would rise at 4 a.m., pray, and milk her family’s sheep. Then she would add an enzyme to the pails of milk and stir them for hours to make a salty, rubbery, halloumi-like cheese.
But that routine changed overnight in November, when the Israeli Army demolished her hamlet, Humsa, in the West Bank. When the 13 families who live there resurrected their homes, the army returned in early February to knock them down again. By the end of February, parts of Humsa had been dismantled and rebuilt six times in three months because the Israelis viewed them as illegal structures.
“Before, life was about waking up and milking and making cheese,” Ms. Abu Awad said in a recent interview. “Now we’re just waiting for the army.”
The vigor with which the Israeli Army has tried to demolish Humsa has turned this small Palestinian encampment into an embodiment of the battle for the future of the occupied territories.
formally annex last year. The government suspended that plan in September as part of a deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates.
The army has since destroyed more than 200 structures there, saying they were built without legal permits.
“We’re not shooting from the hip here,” said Mark Regev, a senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “We’re going through with the implementation of the court’s decision. There is no doubt that due process has been served.”
18 percent of the West Bank that Israel has designated a military training zone. And they argue that the herders arrived there at least a decade after the military zone was established in 1972, in the early years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.