SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Eight villages face expulsion in Firing Zone 918

9 March 2013
SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Eight villages face expulsion in Firing Zone 918

Imagine that your neighborhood was declared a firing range. You are threatened with forced evacuation. Demolition orders are issued for your home, your church and the school your children attend. Your land will cease to belong to you, and your livestock will be removed.

This is what a thousand Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta face.

Twelve villages lie within the area Israel claims as firing zone 918. Residents of four of the villages have been told they are excluded from the attempted eviction because the ammunition being used by soldiers training for war near their homes is not live. The one thousand residents of the other eight villages, half of them children, could lose their homes, schools, crops and livestock, their mosques and their way of life within the year.

 House demolition, South Hebron Hills

These Palestinian families were forcibly removed by the Israeli military in 1999 and many of their homes, wells and animal shelters were destroyed. Some of the region's residents returned in 2000 and live under constant threat of home demolition, settler violence and military harassment.

On 16 January 2013 the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition on their behalf and the Israeli court granted a temporary order preventing forcible transferring of the families pending a further decision. The temporary order is all that is currently preventing the forced removal of the families living in Masafer Yatta.

During the past month soldiers have repeatedly driven large vehicles across planted fields, confiscated residents' cars, cameras, phones and livestock, landed helicopters next to dwellings and livestock, and threatened families with imminent eviction and destruction of their homes. Children in the region find unexplored ordnance as they walk to and from school, and families are awakened during the night by the sound of repeated firing and by military helicopters and jeeps driving near their homes.