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New Palestinian Nakba in Masafer Yatta

For years, the Masafer Yatta area, south of Hebron, has been subjected to continuous Israeli attacks, with the aim of displacing its people and confiscating their lands, by defining it as firing zone 918.

Masafer Yatta residents say that 200 Palestinian families have been permanently residing in the 3,000-hectare area since before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War.

Meanwhile, home demolitions, confiscation of the most basic infrastructure and military training exercises have been part of everyday reality in the area, forcing many to live in natural caves.

Israeli authorities have demolished or confiscated 217 Palestinian structures in “Firing Zone 918” since 2011, displacing 608 Palestinian residents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Israel has designated nearly 30 percent of Israel-administered Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the occupied West Bank, as “firing zones”, according to the UN.

Last week, Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected a petition against the eviction of hundreds of Palestinian inhabitants of a rural part of the occupied West Bank, in an area Israel has designated a zone for military exercises.

After two decades of inconclusive legal manoeuvring, the Supreme Court issued its ruling late last Wednesday, paving the way for the demolition of eight small villages in Masafer Yatta, a rocky, arid area near Hebron.

In its ruling, the court said it had found the Palestinian dwellers, who have kept a distinct, generations-long, nomadic way of life, making a living from farming and herding, had not been permanent residents of the area when the Israeli military first declared it a firing zone in the 1980s.

Masafer Yatta residents’ eviction would constitute a breach of international law and the Geneva Conventions. The court’s order proves that the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) is still ongoing and that the Israeli Supreme Court is nothing but a tool of the colonial entity.

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