Middle East Monitor / January 3, 2023
The newly sworn-in Israeli government is preparing for the forcible eviction of eight of the 28 neighbourhoods in the Masafer Yatta area, located in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank.
Head of the Masafer Yatta Village Council, Nidal Younis, said the Israeli occupation authorities had decided to carry out the collective eviction of the indigenous Palestinian residents of the eight neighbourhoods.
“The Palestinian Authority (PA) told us that the Israeli occupation is planning to evict the residents of the eight neighbourhoods in the coming days,” Younis said, noting that the PA did not give details about the time and date of the planned eviction.
On 4 May 2022, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that there were no legal barriers to the planned expulsion of Palestinian residents from Masafer Yatta to make way for military training.
The UN OCHA said then that this ruling “effectively placed the residents at imminent risk of forced evictions, arbitrary displacement and forcible transfer.”
According to the UN OCHA, in the 1980s, the Israeli occupation designated part of Masafer Yatta as ‘Firing Zone 918’ and declared it a closed military zone.
Since this declaration, indigenous Palestinian residents have been at risk of forced eviction, demolition and forcible transfer. The two villages of Khirbet Sarura and Kharoubeh no longer exist after their homes were demolished.
“Approximately 20 per cent of the West Bank has been designated as ‘Firing Zones,’ affecting over 5,000 Palestinians from 38 communities,” the UN OCHA said.
It added: “Currently, Masafer Yatta is home to 215 Palestinian households, including about 1,150 people, of which 569 are children.”
In an effort to force Palestinians out of the area, the Israeli occupation has deprived residents of access to basic amenities including drainage and permission to construct to meet the needs of the growing population.