Israeli forces, Jewish settlers invade Palestinian community

Peoples Dispatch  / June 6, 2023

The escalation of attacks on Masafer Yatta in the West Bank comes after the Israeli Supreme Court named the area an Israeli army “firing zone” from which villagers can be expelled. 

Israeli forces continued their campaign of repression and colonization in the Palestinian village of Masafer Yatta over the weekend, leading to multiple injuries, including to a 6-year old child.

Jewish Settlers from the nearby Jewish settlement in Hebron/Al-Khalil, along with the Israeli army, harassed and physically assaulted activists and residents of Masafer Yatta, intensifying the attempts to expel the Palestinians from their homes, according to multiple reports from the ground. 

The escalation comes in the aftermath of the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling last year that the village falls under the “firing zone” of the Israeli army and that Palestinian residents can be expelled from the area.

Over 3,000 Palestinians live in Masafer Yatta, spread out over 14 smaller villages. Rights groups warn that following the court order the Israeli army can evict and forcibly relocate villagers at any moment.

On Sunday, illegal Israeli settlers, under the protection of Israeli soldiers, invaded the village and attacked Palestinians and their property, including agricultural land. Some of the settlers let their livestock free on Palestinian-owned agricultural land which led to extensive damage, while others set fire to the Palestinians’ crops. They also prevented Palestinian livestock from grazing on nearby pastoral areas. 

Following the Supreme Court order, the Israeli army has paved the way for settlers to build six new Jewish settlement outposts and herd their livestock in the area, in blatant violation of international law.

As threats of displacement and dispossession have intensified, so has the resistance to these efforts. Palestinians have been holding regular protests and demonstrations against the violence and attacks from settlers and the Israeli army. These protests have been met with more state repression.

Palestinians have also appealed to the international community and human rights groups to pressure Israel to end its illegal attempts to take over their land. 

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry reiterated this appeal over the weekend, calling on the international community, especially the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Israel’s foremost ally, the United States, to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing war crimes and human rights violations in defiance of U.N. resolutions and international law.

The director-general of Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq noted that the recent intensification of Israeli settlement and annexation activities is due to waning international pressure and scrutiny on the Israeli government. According to reports, Israel plans to build and expand 10 illegal Israeli settlements and outposts in the area.