Major NGO says Israeli measures in Masafer Yatta may be war crimes

Middle East Monitor  /  July 27, 2023

A major NGO said on Wednesday that Israeli measures in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank, which include the forcible transfer of residents, may amount to war crimes. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) made the claim during a press conference in Amman, Jordan, when discussing the humanitarian crisis in Palestine.

“The extraordinary pressure applied by the Israeli occupation authorities to transfer the Masafer Yatta communities leave an impact on people’s physical and mental health,” explained Enass Abu Khalaf, the head of communications at MSF for the Middle East. “Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta and its vicinity face great challenges, such as living in constant fear of displacement, the demolition of their homes, deprivation of water, restriction of their movements and facing settler violence.”

The NGO’s head of mission for the Palestinian Territories, David Cantero Pérez, called on the international community to assume its legal responsibility for what the residents of Masafer Yatta are exposed to.

“About 1,100 residents of Masafer Yatta live in danger of forced displacement, which constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law that Israel must respect, and constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and thus becomes a war crime,” he pointed out. “The residents of Masafer Yatta are subjected to all forms of violence. Soldiers enter villages at night, enforce curfews and other movement restrictions, conduct military training near living areas, confiscate vehicles and demolish homes. They make life unbearable for residents.”

As a humanitarian medical organization, he said, MSF condemns Israeli policies and calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the eviction plan and stop implementing measures that restrict access to basic services, including medical care, for the Palestinians in Masafer Yatta. “The international community must take urgent and necessary measures to protect people living in Masafer Yatta and ensure that their human rights are upheld.”