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On May 4, the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, close to 11 p.m., the Supreme Court issued a ruling unanimously rejecting the petitions presented by the inhabitants of Palestinian villages in the Massafer Yatta region against their eviction from the area declared by the Israeli army as ‘firing zone 918’, thus enfding 22 years of legal debates and deferments by the state. The petitions were presented on behalf of villages with a population of some 1,500 people, located in the area the army has designated for training in live ammunition. However, the ruling also applies to additional villages in the area, designated for ‘dry’ maneuvers, numbering another 1,300 people. This decree means that, in addition to the systematic demolition of houses, destruction of farming land and roads, and the ongoing harassment of the lives and livelihood of Massafer Yatta Palestinians, the occupation authorities can now lawfully expel the villagers permanently at any given moment. The grounds for this ruling, among other things, negate the State of Israel’s commitment to the 4th Geneva Convention and to international law regarding population under occupation.
Stop the expulsion of communities in Masafer Yatta (Firing Zone 918)!
Last week, the High Court ruled that the IDF and the State of Israel may expel more than 1,000 residents of Masfer Yatta from their homes and villages, where they have lived for decades. On Friday, May 13, we will go to Masafer Yatta to support residents in saying no to forced transfer. The demonstration is organized and will be led by local residents.
South Hebron Hills
This week, at Widada (near Zanouta), soldiers have been positioned preventing the invasion by colonists and their flocks into tended Palestinian fields, apparently following violent colonist attacks there during the past week.
The colonists continue their infrastructure works near the road leading to the ‘Avigail’ outpost. The road is located inside firing zone 918, on privately-owned Palestinian land, and the occupation authorities have undertaken to move it elsewhere under order from the Supreme Court. Likewise, this Monday, a new structure was put up inside a vineyard planted by colonists on lands belonging to En Al Beida, opposite the cowsheds of the colonies ‘Carmel’ and ‘Maon’. On Wednesday, an army force arrived at the shed erected by the Palestinian landowner there, threatened him with demolition, confiscated work tools, and gave his phone number to the violent colonist from the nearby outpost. Later the force returned with a ‘closed military zone’ order, violently arrested the landowner and chased away the Palestinian and Israeli activists.
On Friday, May 6, the same violent colonist attacked a shepherd and his flock from Umm Al Kheir in a wood near ‘Carmel’ and wounded a goat. Then colonists with their flocks entered the nearby tended Palestinian fields, and threatened a policeman summoned to the site with stones when he tried to arrest one of them. The Palestinians lodged a complaint with the police and the assailing colonist was detained for questioning.
On Friday, colonists flew a drone to chase away a Palestinian shepherd and flock near Susya. That day, inside the village of Tawane, the army detained a vehicle for inspection and soldiers threatened activists and prevented them from photographing the incident. On Saturday, a Civil Administration officer handed an order to remove structures designated for a chicken coop belonging to a Tawane family. That same day, Saturday, colonist children threw stones at Susya.
Activists accompanied shepherds around Simra-Fakhit and joined the harvest at Atariya, as well as the family of the Umm Al Arais landowner – unhampered.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling (see above), several journalist tours of Massafer Yatta were held on both Friday and Saturday.
Palestinian Jordan Valley and the West Bank Hill Range
Violence on the part of the outpost terrorists escalated this week, in both the northern and southern part of the Palestinian Jordan Valley, as well as on the West Bank Hill Range.
In Hamra, in the northern part of the Palestinian Jordan Valley, on Wednesday May 4, activists prevented an attempt by soldiers to chase away shepherds and their flocks from their grazing grounds. On Thursday, women-soldiers chased away the shepherds and tried to confiscate their donkey. When they didn’t manage to make him climb onto the military vehicle, they made do with confiscating the rope tied to his neck. On Friday, the violent colonist from the nearby outpost rode his ATV into the Palestinian flock and chased it away. This terrorist and his friend threatened the child-shepherds (age 7 to 10) with pepper spray and tried to rob them; the children ran away. On Saturday, the terrorist returned to harass the shepherds with his dog after their accompaniers left. Shepherd accompaniment at Farisiya and Khalat Makhoul took place most of the week without any special clashes, but on Saturday colonists with their flocks invaded tended fields at Khalat Makhoul.
In the Auja area, in the southern part of the Palestinian Jordan Valley, all week activists accompanied shepherds. On Thursday, a colonist in his vehicle chased away shepherds and flocks that were on their way back to their village. On Friday morning, 4 masked outpost terrorists blocked a vehicle belonging to activists on their way to accompany shepherds, and then attacked an older activist who was remained alone in the field with burses and threats.
A shepherd from Turmus Aya reported that he was attacked on Wednesday by colonists from the ‘dismantled’ violent outpost ‘Ma’ale Ahuviya’ who went out to ‘search’ for a horse from their outpost. The shepherd managed to escape, but the colonist terrorists wounded and stole 28 of his sheep. Activists summoned police who ‘spoke’ with the ‘Ma’ale Ahuviya’ thugs, but did not search for the sheep, and recommended that the Palestinians do it themselves – except for in the outpost, of course.
On Monday, May 2, the occupation authorities demolished a structure at Auja and another in the village of Duma on the West Bank Hill Range.
On Thursday, May 5, colonists carried out earth works to expand the outpost ‘Giv’at Sal’it’ erected on Palestinian-owned land in the northern part of the Valley.