Photo blog: Visit to Masafer Yatta, as the efforts to expel its residents escalate

Tomorrow, 23 March 2016, Israel’s High Court of Justice will hold a hearing on a petition filed by the residents of Masafer Yatta against the Israeli Authorities' intention to expel them from their homes due to the establishment of "Firing Zone 918." The hearing will be the first held in the case since the two-year mediation process between the parties failed. Immediately after the mediation attempts ended, Israel destroyed 22 homes in the communities of Khirbet Jenbah and Khirbet al-Halawah.

Ahead of the hearing, we visited the communities to learn about their current reality and legal situation. We visited Khirbet Jenbah, Khirbet al-Fakhit, and Khirbet al-Mufaqarah, and looked out over Khirbet Bir al-‘Eid and illegal outposts Mitzpe Yair and Lucifer Farm.

Photos by Osnat Skoblinski, B'Tselem's New Media Coordinator.

Concrete blocks placed by the military on the western access road to the Masafer Yatta area. The houses of Khirbet Jenbah are seen at the bottom of the valley.
Concrete blocks placed by the military on the western access road to the Masafer Yatta area. The houses of Khirbet Jenbah are seen at the bottom of the valley.
Cave home in Khirbet Jenbah. Area residents traditionally lived in caves, using them as a shared family space, for living, cooking, and sheltering livestock. Today, the authorities prohibit the communities from building permanent homes and developing in accordance with community needs and they continue to live in cramped conditions in the ancient caves.
Cave home in Khirbet Jenbah. Area residents traditionally lived in caves, using them as a shared family space, for living, cooking, and sheltering livestock. Today, the authorities prohibit the communities from building permanent homes and developing in accordance with community needs and they continue to live in cramped conditions in the ancient caves.
Entrance to ancient cave in Khirbet Jenbah.
Entrance to ancient cave in Khirbet Jenbah.
Pupils of the Khirbet al-Fakhit await the school bus that takes them home. Pupils from another community in the area need the military to protect them from settler attacks on the way to school.
Pupils of the Khirbet al-Fakhit await the school bus that takes them home. Pupils from another community in the area need the military to protect them from settler attacks on the way to school.
Demolished home in Khirbet Jenbah. The Civil Administration does not issue building permits to Palestinians in the area, on the grounds that they live within a firing zone. In February, the Administration demolished more than 20 homes in the area.
Demolished home in Khirbet Jenbah. The Civil Administration does not issue building permits to Palestinians in the area, on the grounds that they live within a firing zone. In February, the Administration demolished more than 20 homes in the area.
Local shepherd. Residents of the area live primarily off traditional agriculture and raising livestock. Women make Kishek, dried Labaneh that is considered a delicacy and sold throughout the West Bank.
Local shepherd. Residents of the area live primarily off traditional agriculture and raising livestock. Women make Kishek, dried Labaneh that is considered a delicacy and sold throughout the West Bank.
Livestock pens in Khirbet Jenbah.
Livestock pens in Khirbet Jenbah.
Traditional agriculture is at the mercy of the elements and requires broad expanses for sowing. In recent years, repeated military training in the area has harmed crops.
Traditional agriculture is at the mercy of the elements and requires broad expanses for sowing. In recent years, repeated military training in the area has harmed crops.
Ruins of Khirbet Mufaqarah mosque, demolished on the grounds that it was not issued a building permit. Although the state excluded the community in the firing zone, this status does not guarantee it stability.
Ruins of Khirbet Mufaqarah mosque, demolished on the grounds that it was not issued a building permit. Although the state excluded the community in the firing zone, this status does not guarantee it stability.
Mother and daughter Zeinab and Rasmiya Abu ‘Arram by their livestock pen in Khirbet Jenbah.
Mother and daughter Zeinab and Rasmiya Abu ‘Arram by their livestock pen in Khirbet Jenbah.
Homes of Khirbet Mufaqarah.
Homes of Khirbet Mufaqarah.
Dirt road linking Khirbet al-Fakhit with a-Sfai a-Tahta. The Israeli authorities do not fulfill their duty to install suitable infrastructure for Palestinian communities in the area and prevent residents from doing so themselves. The Civil Administration prevents the paving of roads in the area, leaving many villages accessible only by off-road vehicle.
Dirt road linking Khirbet al-Fakhit with a-Sfai a-Tahta. The Israeli authorities do not fulfill their duty to install suitable infrastructure for Palestinian communities in the area and prevent residents from doing so themselves. The Civil Administration prevents the paving of roads in the area, leaving many villages accessible only by off-road vehicle.

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Eyes Wide Open Photo Blog by B'Tselem is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to use the photos in the blog. However, any public use of photos must include copyright credit to the photographer and B’Tselem.