For years, Israel has been leading a policy aimed against Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, with the intention of making the residents leave their homes and thus transfer the communities within the area. The policy is implemented tactically, so as to avoid blatant images of soldiers forcing Palestinians onto trucks. Instead, Israel invests efforts in making the lives of these residents unbearable, in order to get them to leave their homes as though of their own free will. The policy is not applied uniformly to all the communities, and ranges from harassment and preventing development to an explicit intention to expel entire communities. In any case, Israel’s goal is to minimize Palestinian presence in order to use the territory for its own uses, including expanding settlements. Following is a review of the situation of several communities that Israel explicitly declared its intention to expel.
On 4 Feb. 2018, at about 5:00 AM, Civil Administration officials and security forces arrived in the Abu a-Nawar community and demolished two buildings at the community’s school. The classrooms were used by some 25 children in the 3rd and 4th grades. The buildings were constructed with funding from the European Union and the Palestinian Authority at the end of September 2017. On 7 Oct. 2017 Civil Administration officials arrived in the community, accompanied by security forces, and confiscated the doors of these two classroom. A demolition order was placed in one of these buildings on 13 Dec. 2017, and the legal proceeding in their case is still pending. The demolition of educational buildings is one of the means Israel uses in its attempt to expel Palestinian communities from their homes, so that it can concentrate the residents in enclaves and use the territory for its own needs.
On Monday morning, 5 Feb. 2018, Civil Administration personnel and a Border Police force dismantled and confiscated a water pipeline that had served to irrigate the watermelon patch in Khirbet a-Sakut in the northern Jordan Valley. At around 4:00 P.M. that day, the troops went to the community of Khirbet Um al-Jamal and confiscated four tents that served as the homes of nine people, including six minors. The confiscated tents were funded by a humanitarian aid organization after the Civil Administration demolished tents in the community in 2014.
Since Nov. 2017, the military has imposed harsh travel restrictions on the residents of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills. After residents removed roadblocks, ditches were dug to almost entirely prevent travel in and out of the area. Residents now have to walk long distances on foot, sometimes in rough weather, or suffer damage to private cars that cannot, in any case, transport bulk goods. This is another aspect of the Israeli authorities’ harassment of these Palestinians for decades, to pressure them to leave 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, leaving 18 people, including eight minors, homeless. The demolition was captured on video by B’Tselem field-researcher Nasser Nawaj'ah. Residents in the area have been victims of repeated harassment by the Israeli authorities, who declared a large part of the area as a firing zone in the late 70s, and have been working to expel residents ever since.
This morning, at around 7:00 AM, Civil Administration officials, together with security forces and four bulldozers arrived at the Jabal al-Baba community near ‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. The forces destroyed three pre-fab homes that housed four families, leaving 27 people, including 18 children and youths, homeless. The forces also demolished two bathroom stalls donated by a humanitarian aid organization. The most recent abuse the community was subjected to by the authorities was on 11 September 2017 when forces confiscated equipment used to repair the community’s access road.
B'Tselem Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad said, following the State's response submitted earlier today to the High Court of Justice, that the state was asking the court to authorize a war crime: "No sanctimonious language about a ‘planning, proprietary and realistic’ alternate, or ‘time to prepare’ can erase the disgrace or hide the facts: the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar means the forcible transfer of protected persons, and forcible transfer is a war crime. Those responsible for it will bear personal criminal liability – exactly as B’Tselem stated two weeks ago, in a letter addressed to the prime minister, defense minister, justice minister, chief of staff and the head of the Civil Administration."
Civil Administration signals it is prepared to move forward with the forcible transfer of the entire community, an intention unequivocally stated by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to reporters two weeks ago. Doing so would constitute a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
On 8 Sept. 2017, at about 3:00 P.M., a military force came with a bulldozer to the dirt road that connects the town of Yatta with the villages of Masafer Yatta, dug it up and blocked it off with rocks. The destruction of the road, which had been renovated just a day earlier with aid funding, forces villagers to now take a long detour. Masafer Yatta, which extends southeast of Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, is home to more than 1,000 people which Israel has been trying to expel for many years, including by declaring the area Firing Zone 918.
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.