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MSF condemn Israel plan to forcibly displace Masafer Yatta residents

January 20, 2023 at 11:00 am

European diplomats visit the village where the school was destroyed by Israeli forces about a month ago in the Masafer Yatta district of Hebron of the West Bank on December 19, 2022 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) condemned on Thursday the Israeli forces plan to displace about 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in the Masafer Yatta area, south of Hebron, in the southern West Bank.

The organisation said in a statement that the newly appointed Israeli government have approved the plan, which targets an area where the international medical organisation is active, and its staff provides health care to the residents.

MSF country director David Cantero Pérez said the plan would mean the “imminent forcible displacement” of almost the entire population of Masafer Yatta, adding “Where are all these families to go? This is completely unacceptable.”

READ: Israel approves decision to demolish school in Masafer Yatta 

In the 1980s, Israel designated Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, as a military firing zone. In the decades since, Palestinians living in 12 villages scattered across the region have seen their homes repeatedly demolished and have lived under the threat of forced displacement.

According to the statement, the residents’ situation has further deteriorated in May 2022 following a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court which removed all legal barriers to the forced displacement of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta to make way for the military zone.

The statement cited Palestinian officials as saying that as of January 2023, most of the residents of Masafer Yatta had received demolition orders and were at imminent risk to be forcibly displaced.

Israeli authorities have put extraordinary pressure on residents of Masafer Yatta to leave the area including demolishing their homes, installing checkpoints, confiscating residents’ vehicles, and enforcing curfews and other movement restrictions, which severely impacted the residents’ freedom of movement, mental health and ability to access basic services, including medical care, according to MSF teams working in the area.

In 1999, the Israeli authorities issued eviction orders for about 700 Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, under the pretext of “living in an illegal firing zone.”

READ: Illegal Israeli settler tries to run over children in Masafer Yatta