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EU warns of 'worst Palestinian displacement in decades'

Israeli forces raze four water wells in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, in the southern West Bank on Feb. 02, 2022 [Ihab Alami/ApaImages]
Israeli forces raze four water wells in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, in the southern West Bank on 2 February 2022 [Ihab Alami/ApaImages]

The European Union yesterday warned of the "possible" displacement of Palestinians from the West Bank as Israel continues to force residents out of Masafer Yatta following a court ruling.

Touring Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank, EU Ambassador to the occupied Palestinian territories, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, warned: "If mass evictions and forcible transfer were to be the case, that would be the biggest forcible transfer for decades." He added that he was "concerned about the situation."

Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, EU Representative visits the Masafer Yatta in the south of the West Bank city of Hebron on July 7, 2022 [Mamoun Wazwaz/ApaImages]

Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, EU Representative visits the Masafer Yatta in the south of the West Bank city of Hebron on July 7, 2022 [Mamoun Wazwaz/ApaImages]

The Israeli occupation army is trying to force Palestinians out of at least 12 Masafer Yatta communities, claiming that their homes were built in the vicinity of a military training zone.

On 4 May, the Israeli High Court of Justice approved the eviction of Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta to make room for Israeli military training. Local sources reported that 27 buildings were levelled since the judgement, and at least 30 more demolition orders were issued.

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."

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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