HEBRON, Tuesday, January 03, 2023 (WAFA) – Israeli forces today demolished five Palestinian inhabited houses in Yatta town, south of the city of Hebron, according to a local activist.
Rateb Jbour, an anti-colonial-settlement activist, said that Israeli forces escorted two bulldozers to Ma‘in community, where the heavy machineries tore down a 170-square-meter inhabited house belonging to Hamad Mohammad, purportedly for being built without a license.
Meanwhile, the soldiers demolished four other houses in Shi‘b al Butum, one of the hamlets making up Masafer Yatta.
Fuad al-‘Amour, a local anti-colonial-settlement activist, said that the gun-toting soldiers used a bulldozer to raze four houses, each of which occupying an area of 80 square meters, belonging to four members of the Jabarin family, reducing them to rubble, citing the same flimsy pretext.
Al-‘Amour added that this was the fourth time for these houses to be demolished within two years as a means to force displace the indigenous Palestinian communities and take over their land for colonial settlement expansion.
The newly sworn-in Israeli government is preparing for the forcible eviction of eight of the 28 hamlets in the Masafer Yatta area.
Head of the Masafer Yatta Village Council, Nidal Younis, said the Israeli occupation authorities had decided to carry out the collective eviction of the indigenous Palestinian residents of the eight hamlets.
In May 2022, Israel’s top court gave the army the green light to forcibly expel some 1,300 Palestinians living in twelve villages or hamlets making up the Masafer Yatta area, which relies heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, marking one of the largest expulsions carried out by the State of Israel in recent decades.
Located in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli administrative and military control, the area has been subjected to repeated Israeli violations by settlers and soldiers targeting their main source of living - livestock.
It has been designated as a closed Israeli military zone for training since 1980s and accordingly referred to as Firing Zone 918.
Since this declaration, indigenous Palestinian residents have been at risk of forced eviction, demolition and forcible transfer. The two villages of Khirbet Sarura and Kharoubeh no longer exist after their homes were demolished.
"Approximately 20 per cent of the West Bank has been designated as 'Firing Zones,' affecting over 5,000 Palestinians from 38 communities," the UN OCHA said.
It added: "Currently, Masafer Yatta is home to 215 Palestinian households, including about 1,150 people, of which 569 are children."
In an effort to force Palestinians out of the area, the Israeli occupation authorities have deprived residents of access to basic amenities including drainage and permission to construct to meet the needs of the growing population.