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Largest Palestinian Displaced in Decades After Israeli Court Judgment – SABC News

About 1,200 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank district of Masafer Yatta face the risk of deportation to create a firing zone for their troops after decades of legal disputes that ended last month in Israel’s Supreme Court.

The ruling made it one of the largest displacements since Israel took territory in the 1967 Middle East war. However, residents are refusing to leave, hoping their resilience and international pressure will prevent Israel from carrying out evictions.

During the long litigation, much of the debate was over whether the Palestinians living in the area were permanent residents or seasonal residents.

In the 1980s, Israel declared the area a closed military area known as the “918 Shooting Area”. The court argued that this 3,000 hectares along the Israeli-West Bank border were “very important” for training purposes and that the Palestinians living there were only seasonal residents.

The Supreme Court concluded that residents “failed to substantiate their claim of permanent residency” before the area was designated as a firing area. It relied on aerial photography and excerpts from a 1985 book both sides cited as evidence.

The book, “Life in the Caves of Mount Hebron,” was written by the Israeli anthropologist Yakov Habakuk, who studied the lives of Palestinian farmers and shepherds in Masafer Yatta for three years.

Havakook declined to comment and instead introduced his book to reporters. However, one anthropologist said that at the request of one of the lawyers, he tried to present an expert opinion on behalf of a resident, but the Israeli Ministry of Defense, where he was working at the time, prevented this.

Judgment Devastates Residents

The communities in this part of the South Hebron Hills have traditionally lived in underground caverns. In the last 20 years they have started building tin shacks and small rooms on the ground.

According to residents, the Israeli military has been demolishing the new building for years and an eviction action will now be sought with the support of Israel’s highest court.

“They took this land from us,” said Wadha Ayoub Abu Sabha, a resident of al-Fakheit, one of the villages that Palestinian shepherds and farmers claim to have historically connected with the land. They try to steal it and build a settlement.

“We’re not leaving,” she said.

international criticism

The United Nations and the European Union condemned the court’s ruling and urged Israel to stop demolition and evictions.

“The establishment of a shooting range cannot be considered as a ‘military reason’ to displace the occupied population,” the EU spokesperson said in a statement.

In a transcript of a ministerial meeting on a settlement discovered by Israeli researchers in 1981, then-Agricultural Minister Ariel Sharon (later Prime Minister) proposed that the Israeli army expand a training area on the hills of South Hebron to expel the Palestinian population.

“We want to provide more training areas,” Sharon said.

The Israeli army told Reuters that the area had been declared a firing zone due to “various operational considerations” and that Palestinians had violated lockdown orders by building buildings without permission over the years.

According to the United Nations, Israeli authorities are rejecting most Palestinian building permit applications for “Zone C,” an area in which Israel takes full control and occupies two-thirds of the West Bank, where most Jewish settlements are located. In other parts of the West Bank, Palestinians exercise limited autonomy.

According to UN data, Israel has marked nearly 30% of Area C as a military fire zone. The designation puts 38 of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities at increased risk of forced displacement.

Meanwhile, settlements in the area continue to expand, further limiting Palestinian migration and the space where residents can farm and graze sheep and goats.

Largest Palestinian Displaced in Decades After Israeli Court Judgment – SABC News

Source link Largest Palestinian Displaced in Decades After Israeli Court Judgment – SABC News

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