FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators hold Palestinian flags as members of the Israel Defense Forces stand guard during a protest against Israeli settlements in Masafer Yatta in the Israeli-occupied West Bank October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma/File Photo
March 15, 2022
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday held a hearing on petitions against a long-running bid by the Israeli army to evict over 1,000 Palestinian residents from a rural part of the occupied West Bank that it had earmarked for military exercises.
After two decades of fruitless legal maneuvering, the Supreme Court is expected to soon rule on the army’s push to destroy eight small communities in a rocky, arid area of the southern West Bank near Hebron.
The petitioners say this would leave more than 1,000 Palestinians homeless and endanger their distinctive generations-long nomadic way of life, which relies on agriculture and livestock for a living.
“For 22 years they have dragged us from one court hearing to another,” Othman al-Jabareen, one of the Palestinian petitioners, told the court. “God willing, the judges will let us stay on our land because we have no choice.”
The Israeli prosecutor said at Tuesday’s hearing: “The Israeli military has clearly established the critical importance of this firing zone for military training. We have dealt with this topic again and again.”
The area, which stretches over 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) and is known to Palestinians as Masafer Yatta and to Israelis as the South Hebron Hills, lies near the West Bank-Israel border.
In 1999, the military evicted hundreds of Palestinian residents from their homes after declaring the area a firing zone. Petitions were first filed in 2000, and a court ordered the Israeli government to allow residents to return pending a final verdict.
In 2012, after repeated delays and failed attempts at mediation, the government and military submitted responses to the Palestinian petitions.
As the case has stalled for the past two decades without a definitive outcome, Palestinian residents have said they have been denied building permits as the army demolished all new buildings, including houses, water wells and solar panels. The military, meanwhile, has only conducted sporadic drills.
Palestinians in the area also say they are struggling to connect to water and electricity networks, which nearby Jewish settlements built on occupied land have access to.
“In this case, it’s not about a firing zone, it’s about taking control of land, because unlike other areas, most of the land is privately owned,” said Shlomo Lecker, who works with the Civil Rights Association in Israel 200 of them represent the Palestinian families at risk of displacement.
“In effect, this is land expropriation without compensation.”
Outside the Jerusalem courthouse, dozens of Israeli protesters who have opposed Israel’s occupation of the West Bank since a 1967 war held up signs reading “Families Do Not Shoot Zones” and “Masafer Yatta Is Not A Military Playground.”
(Reporting by Henriette Chacar; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
https://www.oann.com/israeli-top-court-to-rule-on-palestinians-bid-to-stop-displacement-from-west-bank-homes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=israeli-top-court-to-rule-on-palestinians-bid-to-stop-displacement-from-west-bank-homes Israeli Supreme Court to rule on Palestinian request to stop evictions from homes in West Bank