The Israeli army today ordered two Palestinian residents to remove their properties while Jewish settlers raided and destroyed a local farm in the Masafer Yatta area of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Wafa has reported. The soldiers stormed into the village of Maeen, one of the communities in the Masafer Yatta cluster, and ordered a local resident to remove a caravan; his neighbour was told to take down a metal shack.
According to the coordinator of the Protection and Steadfastness Committees in Masafer Yatta, Fouad Al-Amour, while soldiers ordered local residents to remove their properties, settlers from the illegal settlement of Yacoub Talia attacked farmers who were ploughing their fields around the village of Lasifer, throwing stones and forcing them to leave. The settlers were protected by Israeli soldiers, added Al-Amour.
Masafer Yatta is a community of twelve Palestinian villages to the south of Hebron. Its residents have been suffering from the threat of forced displacement for decades due to the establishment of scores of illegal settlements, outposts and military training zones by the Israeli occupation.
On 4 May last year, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that there were no legal barriers to the planned expulsion of Palestinian residents from Masafer Yatta to make way for a military training zone. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), this ruling “effectively placed the residents at imminent risk of forced evictions, arbitrary displacement and forcible transfer.” In the 1980s, added UN OCHA, the Israeli occupation designated part of Masafer Yatta as “Firing Zone 918” and declared it to be a closed military zone.
Ever since, the indigenous Palestinian residents have been at risk of forced eviction, demolition and forcible transfer. The two villages of Khirbet Sarura and Kharoubeh no longer exist after the homes there were demolished.