RAMALLAH, January 25, 2017 (WAFA) – The Israeli High Court of Justice Wednesday decided to allow the so-called Israeli Civil Administration to carry out demolitions in eight Palestinian villages, south of Hebron.
Israeli media reported that Israel’s High Court of Justice has decided to allow the “Civil Administration” to demolish what it described as “structures adjacent to an illegally built structure in villages inside Israel Defense Forces Firing Zone 918 in the West Bank”.
“The High Court will also allow Civil Administration inspectors to determine what comes under the category of “adjacent” in this regard.”
It reported that Palestinian locals’ are concerned that “some inspectors – whom they believe are also settlers – will take advantage of the situation to authorize the immediate and extensive demolition of residential and public structures.”
There are approximately 1,500 Palestinian locals who have been living in this area for decades, many since before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967.
They would be forcibly relocated to Yatta and neighboring villages, where Israel claims there is a residential ability to accommodate them.
Israeli military frequently stormed and demolished Palestinian residential structures in Palestinian communities in the southern Hebron hills under the guise of conducting military drills.
Such drills caused extensive damage to local Palestinian farmland and severely restricted locals’ freedom of movement. They also denied local shepherds access to pastures.
The Jinba, Mirkez and Halaweh are among 14 Palestinian communities of Masafer Yatta area that have been designated by the Israeli military as closed military zones for training since 1980s. The area has been referred to accordingly as Firing Zone 918.
“Subsequently, these communities have been subject to a range of policies and practices that have undermined their physical security, lowered their standard of living, and increased their poverty levels and dependence on humanitarian aid. The communities are at continuous risk of forcible transfer out of the area,” said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA).
According to OCHA, families in two other communities in the area – Al-Kharoubeh and Khirbet Sarura – have already been forced to leave their homes as a result of settlement activity, including settler violence.
Like many other Palestinian communities located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military and administrative control, Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta are particularly vulnerable and food insecure. They rely on livestock, mostly sheep and goats, as their primary source of income.
Some families are unable to support their livestock since access to grazing areas is restricted due to the threat of settler violence or by the Israeli military, and thus have reduced income with which to meet their own needs, increasing their levels of poverty.
All of the communities located in the Firing Zone are dependent upon food assistance from humanitarian organizations.