A solidarity rally with Palestinians residents of Masafer Yatta will be held next Friday, May 13, by Hadash and Communist Party of Israel (CPI) activists. On the eve of the Independence Day holiday, Israel’s Hight Court of Justice approved the expulsion of about a thousand Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, a group of hamlets in the South Hebron Hills area of the occupied West Bank. If implemented, the eviction would be the largest removal of Palestinians from their lands in decades.
The verdict, issued late Wednesday as Israel largely shut down for its Independence Day, marks the end of a more than two-decade legal struggle by Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta region of the southern West Bank to maintain communities they say go back decades.
Protest outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in solidarity with Palestinian communities from Masafer Yatta on March 15, 2022. Protestors carried signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English reading “Forced transfer is a war crime,” “No to ethnic cleansing,” and “Masafer Yatta is not a military playground.” (Photo: All That’s Left – Anti-Occupation Collective)
“Without warning in the middle of the night, the Israeli High Court of Justice published a verdict with unprecedented consequences,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has represented the residents throughout the process, said in a statement. “The High Court has officially authorized leaving entire families, with their children and their elderly, without a roof over their heads,” it said.
The military declared the area a firing and training zone in the early 1980s. Israeli authorities have argued that the residents only used the area for seasonal agriculture and had no permanent structures there at the time. In November 1999, security forces expelled some 700 villagers and destroyed homes and cisterns and the legal battle began the following year.
According to CPI, “the High Court’s determination in its ruling that Israeli racist law takes precedence to international law in occupied territory. Such an approach moves Israel and the Occupied Territories further toward officially becoming an apartheid single state. The international community must prevent Israel from forcibly transferring the Masafer Yatta communities and make sure, should this crime be committed, that those responsible for it will be held accountable.”
“The Israeli supreme court’s decision to authorize the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the South Hebron hills is horrific. The court is playing an active part in the Israeli government’s policy of occupation – in clear violation of international law,” agreed MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash – Joint List)
The West Bank has been under Israeli occupation rule for nearly 55 years. Masafer Yatta is in the 60% of the territory where the Palestinian Authority is prohibited from operating.
More on Masafer Yatta: https://maki.org.il/en/?s=Masafer+Yatta+