For over a month the military has been curtailing the movement of the Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta (Greater Yatta) in the South Hebron Hills by putting in place physical obstacles. Local residents occasionally managed to forge side paths to get through, and each time the soldiers restored the obstacle either the same day or the next. This morning, 26 December 2017, at around 10:00 A.M., soldiers arrived in the area with bulldozers. They re-blocked paths the Palestinian residents forged between Masafer Yatta and the community of Sh’ab al-Botum. This time the soldiers also piled up mounds of boulders and dug a ditch – two meters deep, by three meters wide – to keep vehicles from getting though. In addition, the troops also dug another ditch along a road which had not previously been blocked, and which runs between the communities of Khallet a-a-Dabe’ and Khribet al-Fakhit.
Since 9 Nov. 2017, the military has restricted movement in four communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills, which are home to some 600 people. The roads connecting the communities and leading to the main road have been blocked off, forcing residents to walk a fair distance to the main road. These communities have been suffering incessant harassment for decades: Israel will not allow them to connect to infrastructure and repeatedly demolishes their homes, in an attempt to drive them out of the area.
This morning, 19 October 2017, at 10:30 AM, Civil Administration officials together with a military detail, arrived at the community of Khirbet al-Halawah, in the Masafer Yatta region in the south Hebron Hills. The forces demolished the homes of two families: a concrete structure built with the help of a contribution from the European Union, and a cinder block structure with plastic sheeting for a roof. The forces left two families homeless. One family has 15 members, including seven children and teenagers, and the other is a family of three, including one minor. As they were leaving the area, the forces passed near the village of a-Tuwani and demolished a shed used by a village resident. In the late 1970s, the military declared a large area in the Masafer Yatta region, which is home to twelve Palestinian communities, as “Firing Zone 918”, and in the 1990s, it expelled residents from their homes. These residents were permitted to return thanks to an injunction issued by the High Court of Justice in response to several petitions, which forbade the state from demolishing the homes pending resolution of the petitions. However, the authorities have since repeatedly harassed residents of the area in an attempt to expel them from their homes. In early 2016, the Civil Administration demolished structures in this and in another community in the area.
As of Jan. 2016 Israeli authorities stepped up efforts to expel Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, Ma’ale Adumim area and the Jordan Valley, demolishing 73 homes and 51 other structures, some donated by aid agencies. Israel recently announced plans to demolish many more structures in Kh. Susiya, expel Abu a-Nuwar’s residents, and reported its failed mediation with Masafer Yatta. All are part of a policy whereby Area C is to serve Israel rather than West Bank Palestinians. Restrictions Israel imposes in Area C force all West Bank Palestinians to live in crowded enclaves without land reserves for building, farming, infrastructure, health and education services or freedom of movement.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.