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UPDATE: Growing Fear that Israel Intends for the Mass Forced Transfer of the Masafer Yatta residents

ACRI's Attys. Dan Yakir and Roni Pelli in Masafer Yatta, May 2022

Residents of Masafer Yatta and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petition to HCJ for additional hearing and interim order to cease military training in live firing zone near their villages:

There is a growing fear that Israel intends for the mass forced transfer of the Masafer Yatta residents.

Immediately following the publication of the High Court ruling that authorized the displacement of over one thousand Palestinians from the Masafer Yatta area, the army began intensive operations that significantly changed the reality of the residents' lives: confiscation of vehicles and demolition of buildings became routine, roadblocks were deployed in the area and a census of the residents was conducted.

What's more, last Thursday, the residents were informed that this week there will be live fire training in the area.

Today, the residents and the Association for Civil Rights petitioned the High Court: "There is a fear that they are preparing for a mass transfer."

The Association for Civil Rights and the residents of Masafer Yatta petitioned today (Sunday) to the High Court for an additional hearing regarding the ruling handed down in May, which allowed for the transfer of over one thousand Palestinian women, men, children and the elderly from the Masafer Yatta area in the southern Hebron Hills. Published in the middle of the night, the ruling immediately revoked the court order that protected the residents from displacement for 22 years, allowing for entire families, children and elderly to remain homeless.

Along with the petition for an additional hearing, ACRI also submitted a request for an interim order that would prevent the training in the near vicinity of the residents.

"The respondents are in a hurry, and after more than 22 years in which the area was almost never used for live fire training by the IDF, they want to return to the area and practice in spite of the submission for additional hearing on the petition - the date of which was known to them in advance,” the application for the interim order declares. "From this we can learn that the State made the principle decision to forcibly remove the petitioners, their families and the rest of the residents of the firing zone area from their homes without waiting for a further decision on the petition, or at the very least the decision was made to make the residents' lives unbearable."

In the request for the additional hearing submitted by Adv. Dan Yakir and Adv. Roni Pelli of the Association for Civil Rights, it was argued that the High Court ruling that authorized the eviction of the residents is in clear contradiction to previous rulings and the international law, and sets the stage for war crimes to be committed. The petition states that the latest High Court ruling virtually repeals all the protections afforded by international law to protected residents in the occupied territory: "Due to the fact that the Honorable Court ruled with the flick of a pen that Israeli law prevails over international law, it considered itself exempt from discussing the petitioners' main arguments under international law: First, that the occupying power must not use the occupied territory as its training ground, and may only conduct trainings that are closely related to maintaining the security of the occupied territory; And secondly, that it is forbidden to practice on private land," the request reads.

The request also details the army's actions in the field and emphasizes that immediately after the ruling was published, the army began to take intensive action that significantly changed the reality of the residents' lives: "Confiscation of vehicles and demolition of buildings have become commonplace; roadblocks have been placed in the region, specifically in the entrances and exits of villages. Residents, visitors and activists are frequently detained. Often, school teachers are forced to walk for fear that their vehicles will be confiscated. In the southern part of the firing area, the respondents began digging deep ditches, some in cultivated fields," the request reads. It was also noted that on the weekend of June 11 and 12, the security forces began conducting a sort of census - moving between the villages of Jinba, Fachit, Chalat a-Dabaa, Taban, Jazz and Spey Tachta, and the houses in them, taking the details of the residents.

"The High Court ruling from May exempts the army from all obligations imposed on it by the international law and allows the forced transfer of protected residents. It is to be hoped that the High Court will accept the request for additional hearing and reverse the ruling that war crimes can be committed under the court's purview, " says Adv. Dan Yakir and Adv. Roni Pelli of the Association for Civil Rights.


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