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UN: Israel's expulsion of Palestinian community 'inhumane, illegal'

A group of European Union Heads of Mission along with Israeli NGOS Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem visit Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta area in the South Hebron Hills on October 19, 2020 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
A group of European Union Heads of Mission along with Israeli NGOS Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem visit Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta area in the South Hebron Hills on October 19, 2020 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

The United Nations said yesterday that Israel's expulsion of 13 Palestinian communities in  the occupied West Bank in order to conduct military exercises is "inhumane and illegal."

This came during a visit by UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Samer Abdel Jaber, to Masafer Yatta area of the southern occupied West Bank, to meet Palestinian residents at risk of forcible transfer. He was joined by officials from five UN Agencies and 11 NGOs, as well as diplomats representing 24 countries, including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkiye, the United Kingdom and the European Union joined Abdel Jaber during his visit.

"Following the recent court ruling on Massafer Yatta, I call upon the Israeli government to allow residents to remain here with dignity," Abdel Jaber said.

"Living here in safety is what residents wish for, as some of them told us today," he said. "We, the international community represented here, are committed to support them."

On 4 May, the Israeli High Court of Justice approved the eviction of Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta to make room for Israeli military trainings.

READ: EU blasts Israeli plan to evict Palestinian families in occupied West Bank

About 1,200 people, including 580 children, are now at imminent risk of forced eviction and displacement, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

They stand to lose their homes, belongings, access to water, livelihoods, primary health facilities and schools, UN OCHA added, stating: "This could amount to forcible transfer, a grave breach of international humanitarian law and, thus a war crime."

Meanwhile, Abdel Jaber stressed: "As the occupying power, the Israeli authorities' responsibility is to protect Palestinian civilians."

He added: "Forcing thirteen communities out to make room for military trainings is contradictory to that imperative, and simply inhumane and illegal."

For his part, Nidal Younes, head of Masafer Yatta local council, was reported by Anadolu news agency saying: "We called on the delegation to intervene urgently and put pressure on the occupation to prevent the deportation of the population."

According to UN statistics, Israel has demolished or expropriated 217 Palestinian buildings in Masafer Yatta since 2011, leading to the displacement of 608 Palestinians.

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