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Israeli army imposes 'severe restrictions' on Palestinian communities near Hebron

Israeli troops in Hebron, West Bank on 10 August 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

The Israeli military has been imposing "severe travel restrictions" on four Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the southern occupied West Bank, according to NGO B'Tselem.

The area's Palestinian residents "have been suffering incessant harassment by Israel for decades", B'Tselem states, since "Israel does not allow them to connect to infrastructure and repeatedly demolishes their homes, in an attempt to drive them out of the area".

Since 9 November, however, the military has restricted movement in four communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills – Khirbet al-Halawah, Khirbet Jenbah, Khirbet al-Fakhit and Khirbet al-Markez – which are home to some 600 people, half of them minors.

In particular, Israeli occupation forces have blocked off roads connecting the communities and leading to the main road, "forcing residents to walk a fair distance to the main road".

Read: Israel attacks Palestinian school in Hebron with tear gas

Because these communities are not connected to running water, they "depend on water delivered in trucks by aid organizations every day". However, due to access restrictions, it has been impossible to deliver water since 15 November, "and the residents have been suffering a water shortage".

B'Tselem explained that "in the late 1970s, the military declared a large area in the Masafer Yatta region, which is home to twelve Palestinian communities, as 'Firing Zone 918'", when "in the 1990s, it expelled residents from their homes".

"These residents were permitted to return thanks to an injunction issued by Israel's High Court of Justice in response to several petitions, which forbade the state from demolishing the homes pending resolution of the petitions".

However, the authorities continue to harass residents of the area, in an attempt to drive them out.

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