ACRI Statement Regarding Forcible Transfer of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta
Alongside the ratification of the new government, it was decided to advance the largest transfer of Palestinian residents since the 1970’s.
The transfer of civilian populations contradicts international law, which prohibits the forcible transfer of a protected civilian population by an occupying power and constitutes a war crime.
Should the transfer indeed be carried out, a humanitarian disaster awaits us: the historic villages will be demolished, and over 1,000 men, women, and children of Masafer Yatta will be left without shelter, a source of income, or personal property, cutting them off from their primary source of livelihood.
ACRI calls for an immediate halt to any plans to expel civilians and that the safety of the 1,000 residents be ensured.
In January 2013, ACRI filed a second petition on the matter on behalf of 108 residents of the villages facing expulsion. The court issued a temporary injunction instructing the state not to forcibly remove the petitioners and their families from their homes until another decision was made.
On May 4, 2022, a verdict was issued rejecting the petition, and effectively authorizing the residents’ expulsion, ending a legal battle that lasted over two decades.
On June 19, 2022, we filed a petition for an additional hearing on the ruling, claiming that the ruling effectively nullifies all protections granted by international law to the protected residents of occupied territory and is liable to enable the execution of war crimes.
On October 2, 2022, the High Court rejected our request for additional hearing. Supreme Court President Hayut expressed reservations about the ruling’s dire and precedential determinations regarding forcible deportation and the preference granted to the military commander's order over international law, determinations that contradict international law and Supreme Court rulings over the past 40 years, but refrained from scheduling another hearing due to her determination that these were incidental statements that were not necessary in order to reject the petitions.
Immediately after the ruling was published, the army began to take intensive action that significantly changed the reality of the residents' lives, making them intolerable: confiscation of vehicles and demolition of buildings have become commonplace; roadblocks have been placed in the region, specifically at 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 zone, the army began to dig deep trenches, some in cultivated fields. Also, during the month of June 2022, the IDF began to conduct a kind of census - soldiers passed between the villages and recorded the details of the residents.