TEL AVIV, Friday, October 07, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli human rights group B'tselem has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan to urgently intervene to stop Israel from evicting Palestinians from their homes and land in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli occupation authorities are planning the eviction of some 1,000 Palestinian inhabitants of Masafer Yatta, a rural area located south and east of the town of Yatta, in order to create a military firing zone, or training ground for Israeli occupation forces.
Eight villages, including four schools, clinics and hundreds of other structures in the area are slated for demolition.
Israel has been trying to drive these communities out for decades, but has recently escalated its actions – in scope, severity, and frequency – following the May 2022 ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court.
The ruling, which contravened international law provisions and basic moral principles, reached the conclusion that the residents have no right to live on the land and there is no legal impediment to expelling them.
"Israel has made the residents lives a nightmare: they suffer daily threats by soldiers and settlers to their bodies and property, as well as noise and pollution hazards, routine damage to infrastructure, incessant invasion of their privacy and constant uncertainty over their future," said B’Tselem in a statement.
"Israel is also working to cut these small communities off from their surroundings, with the military placing roadblocks, confiscating cars and hindering activists, journalists and diplomats from accessing the area," the statement addded.
The rights group said it had attached to the letter an addendum detailing dozens of incidents in the area since June 2022, which illustrate the violent, day-to-day, reality Israel is imposing on these communities.
In its letter, B’Tselem emphasized that while Israel has since 1999 avoided direct expulsion, it is subjecting the residents to intolerable living conditions in an indirect bid to drive them away. "This implicit tactic might better obscure Israel’s intention to commit a war crime, but there’s no ambiguity about it: it is the same objective, and it is the same crime."
B’Tselem’s Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, who signed the letter, explained that Israel’s apartheid regime is forcing “1,000 or so Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills [Masafer Yatta] into a humiliating bare-bones existence, making their lives miserable enough so that they will leave their homes and land, and the state will take over the area.”
He added: “We request your urgent intervention in this case in order to allow these communities to live with dignity, basic security and certainty about their future. When Israel sought to expel the Palestinian community of Khan al-Ahmar (located east of Jerusalem), intervention by the Office of the Prosecutor (October 2018) stopped Israel”.