An Israeli home demolition
Israel’s High Court has ruled that the Israeli army can evict the 1,300 Palestinians who live in eight villages on the southern hills of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
The ruling was made to allow the Israeli army to use the land as a military training area.
The court made the decision on 4 May, settling a legal battle that has lasted more than 20 years and involved the forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians in the area known as Masafer Yatta, Palestinian groups and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said to the Spanish news agency, EFE.
“This court ruling opens the door for the Israeli Army to uproot entire Palestinian communities that have lived in Masafer Yatta for decades. The damage this decision will inflict on the homes and source of livelihood of these people, who are left without a roof over their heads overnight and with nowhere to go, is irreparable,” NRC Palestine director Caroline Ort said in a statement.
The court decision, adopted unanimously, indicates that the Palestinian plaintiffs failed to prove that they had resided in those villages on a permanent basis, before the Israeli army declared the area, known as Area 918, a firing training zone in the early 1980s.
However, Masafer Yatta residents asserted that their presence in those villages dates back decades, since before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War, and that their eviction would constitute a breach of international law.
“This is the final proof for us that you cannot seek justice for Palestinians in Israeli courts. There is only justice for the Jews,” said Nidal Younes to EFE, who heads a local council of Palestinian villages.
On 1 February, Amnesty International became the fourth major human rights organization to label Israel as an apartheid state, after the release of a 278-page report compiled over a four-year period that documents human rights abuses committed against the Palestinian people.
The organization drew upon the events of May 2021 in particular as representing the latest and most critical reason for Tel Aviv’s apartheid designation.
“The events of May 2021 were emblematic of the oppression which Palestinians have faced every day, for decades,” Amnesty International said on their website. “The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.”
The report estimated that 100,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and 68,000 in Israel were “at imminent risk of losing their homes.”
In relation to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Amnesty International have stated they have not taken a position.
“Our focus has been on the Israeli government’s obligations, as an occupying power, under international law, but Amnesty has taken no position on the occupation itself,” the NGO clarified in a tweet on 1 February 2022.