The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory has called on Israel to stop demolitions, military activities and other increasingly coercive measures in Masafer Yatta and allow Palestinian residents to remain in their homes in safety and dignity.
“Pressure on the communities of Masafer Yatta in the West Bank to leave their homes has been mounting since 4 May when the Israeli High Court sanctioned their planned expulsion to make way for military training,” said Yevonne Helle, the acting humanitarian coordinator.
“The humanitarian community stands ready to provide assistance to the people of Masafer Yatta. But ultimately, the authorities must fulfil their obligations to protect them in accordance with international law,” she added.
“Over the past weeks, dozens of people have had their homes demolished in Khirbet Al Fakhiet and Mirkez, in some cases for the third time in less than a year. In Khirbet at Tabban and Khallet Athaba’, new demolition orders have been issued in the past two weeks. Most recently, a military exercise was launched close to residential areas. They are frightened,” she added.
Masafer Yatta is home to 1,144 people, including 569 children. In addition to the immediate impact of any demolitions on lives and livelihoods, these measures could amount to human rights violations including forced evictions, exposing people to the risk of forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to the same source.