Monday, July 23, 2012

Israel to Demolish Eight Palestinian Villages

Yesterday Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the demolition of eight Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills, displacing some 1,500 residents. The order came after the Israeli High Court of Justice issued its decision supporting the move, agreeing with a 2000 finding by the Israeli Civil Administration that “there were no permanent residents in the area” and that those present were merely seasonal residents.

The IDF has argued since 1999 that the villages needed to be destroyed because their presence has prevented the IDF from performing live fire drills in the zone. They also claimed that Palestinians in the zone could collect intelligence on Israeli tactics or gather weapons left over from training exercises and then "use them for terror purposes."

Village residents as well as Israeli human rights activists from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and B’Tselem argued in court that the villages in question have been inhabited since at least the 1830s and represent natural outgrowths of cave-dwelling communities found throughout the region. Activists also argued that residents lived undisturbed in the region until 1997, indicating that Israel has recognized them as permanent residents.

But this failed to convince the High Court as the displaced villagers will be relocated to the town of Yatta and only allowed to return to their homes to work the land and graze flocks on a limited number of dates specified by Israel.

Home evictions and demolitions such as these present an ongoing challenge for Palestinians as Israel continues its colonization of the Palestinian Territories through settlements and military land grabs. Such a policy is not only inherently unjust, but stands as an obstacle to peace in the region. Israel must end its colonization of the Palestinian territories if a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians is to be attained.

Israel orders demolition of 8 Palestinian villages, claims need for IDF training land

Residents of targeted villages will be moved to the West Bank town of Yatta and its environs; state claims that most of those evacuated have permanent homes in the area.

By Amira Hass Jul.23, 2012 | 12:29 PM |  128

The West Bank town of Yatta. Photo by Nir Kafri
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the demolition of eight Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills because the territory is needed for Israel Defense Forces training exercises, the state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday...

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