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Palestinians in Israel army ‘firing zone’ at risk of forcible transfer

Israeli forces aim at Palestinians who are protesting in Nablus, West Bank on 28 July, 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians living in an Israeli army-designated “firing zone” in the eastern Nablus area are “at risk of forcible transfer”, according to a United Nations agency update.

The report, published this week by UN OCHA, highlights how “recent developments have exacerbated the vulnerability of Palestinians living in, or dependent on access to, an area in eastern Nablus governorate designated in the 1970s as closed for Israeli military training”.

According to UN OCHA, military exercises by Israeli occupation forces in so-called “Firing Zone 904A” have led to “temporary displacement, property damage, disruption to life and new access restrictions”, developments that have occurred in parallel to “increasing settlement activities, including violence and intimidation, alongside a reduced Palestinian presence”.

In one case, between 17 and 24 June 2018, “Israeli forces carried out a large military exercise in the area that disrupted the lives of approximately 250 residents of Tell Al Khashabeh, a herding community on the southern edge of the firing zone”.

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Two families were forced to “evacuate their homes for three days”, while “tanks and military jeeps drove over approximately 170 dunums of agricultural land planted with wheat and barley, owned by residents of the community, and damaged an agricultural water well, affecting 15 families.”

In another example, from a military exercise in October 2017, “without prior warning or military order”, Israeli occupation forces destroyed a building “that had previously been used as a home and then turned into an agricultural storage facility”.

The agency noted that “about 18 per cent of the West Bank, or nearly 30 per cent of Area C, is designated by the Israeli authorities as firing zones for military training”, areas that are “home to 6,200 Palestinians living in 38 small Palestinian Bedouin and herding communities.”

“To different degrees,” UN OCHA added, “these communities have been affected by a coercive environment generated by a range of Israeli policies and practices that place residents at risk of forcible transfer.”

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