Israel continues demolitions in Masafer Yatta as residents brace for mass expulsion
Israeli forces issued on Wednesday a demolition order for a Palestinian house in Masafer Yatta, in the southern Hebron hills.
The house is in its last stage of construction and was to become home to a family of eight, including four children. The demolition order was issued for lack of a building permit.
The order came one day after Israeli forces demolished four houses and one agricultural barrack in Masafer Yatta.
"The occupation demolished our house in March, but we rebuilt it before they demolished it again last Tuesday," Othman Jabarin, grandfather of one of the families whose houses were demolished, told The New Arab.
Israel just said they'll evict our 14 villages in Masafer Yatta, kicking 1,000+ people, most of them children, from their homes - in "short time". The ethnic cleansing of my community, Masafer Yatta, is one of the first moves Israel's new far right government is making. URGENT pic.twitter.com/YPxrICz55W— #SaveMasaferYatta (@basel_adra) January 2, 2023
"Nine people lived in the house, including me and my old wife, one of our sons and his family, including my 3-year-old grandson," said Jabarin. "I was coming back from a doctor's visit in Hebron when neighbours told me that the occupation's bulldozer was in front of my house."
"The occupation officer took the keys from my hand and ordered me to stay away as the soldiers threw our furniture outside, and then demolished the house," Jabarin added. "My entire family is staying over with relatives, while I sleep in the car."
Masafer Yatta, a 36 km2 area in the southern Hebron hills, includes 12 Palestinian villages, home to some 1200 Palestinians almost entirely located in 'Area C', under direct Israeli control. Israeli forces declared the area a firing zone in 2000 and Palestinian residents have faced expulsion orders from the area ever since.
Since nine o'clock in the morning, the occupation soldiers have destroyed more than four houses in Masafer Yatta and many barrels of water. The occupation forces are still continuing to destroy homes to implement the plan to ethnically cleanse us from here. pic.twitter.com/FLG0b69pBk— #SaveMasaferYatta (@basel_adra) January 3, 2023
In May, the Israeli supreme court rejected a petition filed by the residents of all 12 villages to reverse the 'firing zone' designation of the area. The ruling was condemned by the European Union and the UN.
Last Sunday, Israel informed the Palestinian Authority's liaison office that all 12 villages will be evacuated soon.
"Israel says it's a temporary evacuation for military drills, but there is no guarantee that residents would be allowed back in their homes," Jamal Jumaa, coordinator of the Palestinian "Stop The Wall" campaign, said to TNA.
"This is the continuation of a decades-long Israeli effort to force Palestinians out of Masafer Yatta," said Jumaa.
"The area is out of Palestinian big urban centres, surrounded by the separation wall, and it is close to Israel's 1948 boundaries, which makes it strategic for Israel to settle and annexe," he stressed.
An 82 year old Palestinian from Masafer Yatta describes how he was born in the very area he and 1,000 other Palestinians are being expelled from today.— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) January 4, 2023
This is apartheid.
📽️ @MosabShawer pic.twitter.com/NS4ozQYKzF
According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, "Israel's notice that it intends to carry out the expulsion follows years in which the state took various measures to make the residents' lives intolerable, driving them to leave their homes ostensibly of their own free will."
"Residents now worry about a possible Israeli expulsion at any moment," Sami Hreini, activist and resident of Masafer Yatta, told TNA.
"With demolitions taking place every week, with settlers' aggressions and by banning us from building or connecting to water or electricity, the occupation has tried to push us out of Masafer Yatta of our own will," Hreini said.
"After decades of resistance, now they want to push us out themselves, and this is closer than ever to happen if international pressure is not made now before it's too late," he added.