B’Tselem: Fast-tracked war crime – Israel informs Palestinians from Masafer Yatta of imminent expulsion
Today (Monday, 2 Jan. 2023), the Israeli District Coordination and Liaison Office (DCO) notified the Palestinian DCO that in the coming days, about 1,000 Palestinians from Masafer Yatta whose land was designated “Firing Zone 918” will receive notices to evict their homes. The Israeli DCO added that the state plans to offer the residents an alternative location, to which they will be expelled.
B’Tselem responded: “Forcible transfer of protected persons in occupied territory is a war crime. Therefore, the Israeli ‘offer’ of an alternative is meaningless. It is a violent threat that leaves the residents with no choice.”
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. Among other things, Israel prohibited these communities from hooking up to power and water grids or constructing homes and public buildings, restricted their movement and enabled soldiers and settlers to threaten their lives and property on a daily basis.
In May 2022, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the state has the power to designate Masafer Yatta a “firing zone” and that the members of these communities are not permanent residents, paving the way for their expulsion. It now appears that even the state admits they live in the area and is seeking a site to relocate them.
In October 2022, B’Tselem wrote to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, requesting his urgent intervention to clarify that Israel must stop its efforts to expel Palestinian communities in the South Hebron hills from their homes and land.