Israel Moves Towards Wiping Out An Entire Palestinian Community

Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld a long-standing expulsion order against the Palestinians in Masafer Yatta, an area in the occupied West Bank. The verdict, issued on Wednesday 4, marks the end of a two-decade legal struggle of Palestinians to maintain their villages.

“Without warning in the middle of the night, the Israeli High Court of Justice published a verdict with unprecedented consequences”, informs the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has represented the residents throughout the process.

“The High Court has officially authorized leaving entire families, with their children and their elderly, without a roof over their heads,” it further said.

Roni Pelli, a lawyer at the association, said the verdict is final and it is not clear if there are any further legal steps that can be taken.

Now it is known that at least one of the judges behind the decision is an Israeli settler who is living illegally on Palestinian land stolen and occupied by Israel, says the IMEU.

This decision could wipe out at least 8 villages with 1,000 Palestinians that make their living through shepherding and agriculture. A forcible displacement of the communities could happen at any time.

Israel has declared the area a firing and training zone and that is why they are expelling the Palestinians. From Israel’s perspective, soldiers need a place to train for a possible war in Lebanon. “The vital importance of this firing zone to the Israel Defence Forces stems from the unique topographical character of the area, which allows for training methods specific to both small and large frameworks, from a squad to a battalion,” the Israeli military said in court filings.

Yet archival documents from the early years of Israeli rule in the West Bank may demonstrate that the motivation is political. Israeli organization B’Tselem also thinks that the case of Masafer Yatta’s ruling “once again fulfilled their role in Israel’s regime of Jewish supremacy and paved the way for the crime of forcible transfer to be committed.”

As the IMEU describes, Israel has been attempting to steal the Masafer Yatta communities’ land since the 80s to build the Firing Zone 918. Since then, the Israeli military and rights groups have swapped court petitions and counter-petitions over the legality of expelling the Palestinians. Nevertheless, the state has maintained the expelling arguing that they were not permanent residents when the firing zone was declared and have no rights to the land.

Including Masafer Yatta, Israel has declared nearly one-fifth of Palestinian land in the West Bank “military firing zones” to steal land belonging to Palestinian. Around 40 herding communities (6,200 people) have been threatened with demolitions of their homes and destruction of their agricultural livelihood stating that they lack building permits. Palestinians can almost never obtain them.

According to international law, Israel’s actions are illegal. To occupy territory for a purpose that serves only the occupier and not the occupied population and the forcible transfer of the occupied population are illegal.

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