Israel prepares the most massive forced displacement of Palestinians in decades

Sitting on the remains of something that looks like a sofa, a family Palestinian looks, gone, the ruins of his house. A few meters away, her neighbors do the same but with the remains of her own home. The image is repeated throughout the Masafer Yatta region, south of the West Bank busy. building demolitions are the first step to expulsion of this community after the sentence of the supreme court which ended more than two decades of legal battle. Now, Israel prepares for expel 1,200 palestinians in one of the largest forced displacements of the population since the beginning of the occupation more than half a century ago.

“We have been on the ground for weeks protesting against the ruling and the Israeli Army has continued to use violence against our community,” he explains. Basil Al Adraa, Palestinian journalist and activist from Masafer Yatta, to this newspaper. In this desert area of ​​the West Bank, about 30 kilometers southeast of Hebron, there are 19 villages scattered across hills and valleys. Its population, which until recently lived in underground caves, is made up of Palestinian Bedouins who are dedicated to agriculture and livestock.

But those days under the shelter of the caves are back. “More than 50 people are already living in tents and caves in very harsh conditions while the israeli army hinders their access to water or electricity & rdquor ;, narrates Al Adraa. In the 1980s, Israel declared these 3,000 arid hectares a closed military zone. He called it “Firing Zone 918” and that is how soldiers and politicians refer to her. This “very crucial” area was chosen. on the border between Israel and the West Bank with the aim of facilitating the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population.

“As if they weren’t human & rdquor;

The Palestinians of Masafer Yatta, on the other hand, embarked 23 years ago on a legal battle which was resolved last month. The Supreme Court concluded that the residents “could not prove their claim for permanent residence & rdquor; before the area was declared a firing zone, although many still have purchase documents after the Nakbathe 1948 catastrophe. Going against international law, the court “has allowed the State [israelí] kite a war crime& rdquor ;, has denounced B’Tseleman Israeli organization fighting against the occupation.

“For generations, long before Israel occupied the West Bank, these communities have been living on this land, earning a living and raising their children,” he added in a statement. “In one fell swoop, the court erased all his history, as if they were not human beings, ruling that none of this existed and, therefore, the State can expel them & rdquor ;, he concluded. Masafer Yatta is located within Area C of the occupied West Bank, which is equivalent to 60% of the territory that Israel exclusively controls. One fifth of Area C has been declared a military zone to shooting ranges and maneuvers since the beginning of the occupation 55 years ago.

Permits for settlers

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Although the Israeli authorities have authorized the construction of jewish settlements in the vicinity of the military zone. Since 2006, the Israeli civil administration has granted only 75 building permits to Palestinians living in Area C. By contrast, some 20,500 have been approved for illegal colonies, which go against international law and are an obstacle to any peace effort. The international community has reacted to the tragedy announced in Masafer Yatta. The European delegation for Palestine has denounced that the court’s ruling breaks with international law, since, as the occupying power, Israel is obliged to protect the civilian population.

In USA83 Democratic senators and congressmen have asked the State Department to prevent the expulsion of the Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, weeks before the president’s visit Joe Biden to Israel. But, on the ground, the consequences are minimal. “Israeli troops are closing the roads to Masafer Yatta, protecting the settlers who attack Palestinian and Israeli activists, and have already started recording the names of the people who live there,” Al Adraa said. “People are worried, this is the step prior to eviction & rdquor ;, he concludes.

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