News ID: 103569
Publish Date : 12 June 2022 - 21:48

MASAFER YATTA, West Bank (Reuters) – Some 1,200 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank region of Masafer Yatta face the risk of forced removal to make way for a Zionist army firing zone after a decades-long legal battle that ended last month in the occupying regime’s highest court.
The ruling opened the way for one of the largest displacements since the Zionist regime occupied the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. But residents are refusing to leave, hoping their resilience and international pressure will keep the regime from carrying out the evictions.
“They want to take this land from us to build settlements,” said Wadha Ayoub Abu Sabha, a resident of al-Fakheit, one of a group of hamlets where Palestinian shepherds and farmers have a historic connection to the land.
“We’re not leaving,” she said.
In the 1980s, the occupying regime declared the area a closed military zone known as “Firing Zone 918.” It argued in court that these 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) were “highly crucial” for training purposes and that the Palestinians living there were only seasonal dwellers.
“It has been a year of immense grief,” said Abu Sabha, her voice breaking as she sat in one of the few tents left standing, lit by a single light bulb.
The communities in this part of the South Al-Khalil Hills traditionally lived in underground caves. Over the past two decades, they have also started building tin shacks and small rooms above ground.
Zionist troops have been demolishing these new constructions for years, Abu Sabha said, but now that they have the court’s backing, the evictions are likely to pick up.
Steps away, her family’s belongings were reduced to a pile of rubble after soldiers arrived with bulldozers to raze some of the structures. She lamented the significant losses — the dwindling livestock even more than the destroyed furniture.
The United Nations and European Union condemned the court ruling and urged the occupying regime to stop the demolitions and evictions.
“The establishment of a firing zone cannot be considered an ‘imperative military reason’ to transfer the population under occupation,” the EU spokesperson said in a statement.
According to the United Nations, the occupying regime authorities reject most Palestinian applications for building permits in “Area C,” a swathe of land making up two-thirds of the West Bank where the regime has full control and where most illegal settlements are located.
UN data also showed that the regime has marked nearly 30 percent of Area C as military firing zones. The designations have put 38 of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities at increased risk of forced displacement.

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