Defend Masafar Yatta

Defend Masafar Yatta

On May 4, the Israeli High Court ruled in favour of the ethnic cleansing of some 1,300 Palestinians living in eight villages in the area of Masafer Yatta.

This would be the largest expulsions carried out by the Israeli apartheid regime since the 1970s.

The Nakba continues….

At the beginning of the 1980, Israel declared 3000 ha of the 3600 ha that make up Masafar Yatta as military Firing Zone 918. Over 40 years later, this serves as a pretext to forcibly expel the Palestinian population.

Help us to defend Masafar Yatta and end the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

by: Activestills

We know that grassroots resistance combined with international pressure is the only way to make a difference.

Masafar Yatta, in the south of Hebron, is home to 20 Palestinian communities, which have been living and herding their livestock in the area since generations. Now, Israel wants to demolish 8 of these communities to ethnically cleanse the area, annex it and further colonize it illegal settlements.

The minutes of a 1981 ministerial meeting expose that the creation of Firing Zone 918 was always meant to be yet another tool of expulsion. The then agriculture minister, Ariel Sharon, later prime minister, proposed creating Firing Zone 918 with the explicit intention of forcing local Palestinians from their homes.

“We will not move. We are organizing, we are mobilizing and we will defend Masafer Yatta. This is our home, our land and the land of our ancestors. Here is our past and here will be our future.

Since the start of the Nakba in 1948 Israel has never stopped its ethnic cleansing policies.

Until when? It is time to rise up now and stop Israeli apartheid.

Help us defend Masafer Yatta and to bring those responsible for and complicit with the crimes against our people to justice.”

Foad Alemoor, head of the Popular Committee for the Defense and Steadfastness in Masafar Yatta.

Defend Masafar Yatta and #EndEthnicCleansing

Palestinians in Masafar Yatta are now at the frontline of the struggle to end Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies.

“What they want to do to Masafer Yatta is one of the largest expulsions since 1967. Their military, their settlers, their government and their courts are all working together to colonize our lands and expel our people.

Yet, despite all, we Palestinians are still here, steadfast and certain that soon or later we will all be able to live in our land, in freedom and justice.”

Aishe Abu Iram, Masafar Yatta.

What is happening in the south of Hebron is not an isolated policy but is part of a long standing and all encompassing strategy aimed at clearing Palestinian land for colonization and annexation.

Firing zones

The designation of zones for military training is a common strategy of the Israeli occupation, which decreed these spaces in almost 30% of Area C of the occupied West Bank, according to the UN, affecting at least 38 Palestinian communities in those areas, many of which were settled before those declarations or even before the Israeli occupation. It’s a technique to deprive Palestinians of their homes.

Life in the military firing zones

The Israeli military already uses the area for training, which causes damage to Palestinians’ land and property. For example, in February, 2020, the army held a major military drill outside the village of Jinbeh, one of the hamlets slated for demolition.

Home demolitions

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA,) Israeli authorities have demolished or confiscated 217 Palestinian structures in “Firing Zone 918” since 2011, displacing 608 Palestinian residents.

This forces many families to live in ancient cave structures that cannot be demolished by the Israeli apartheid regime.

Settler attacks

In 2021 OCHA documented nearly 500 attacks by Israeli settlers resulting in four Palestinian fatalities, 175 injuries and extensive property damage. This is the highest level since OCHA started recording settler-related violence in 2005, and represents a 40 and 50 per cent increase in the number of incidents compared with 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Settlers “hunt horses, kill the sheep, poison animals, cut trees, burn pastures, while on the other hand the Army destroys homes, storages, wells and water supplies,” according to locals from Masafer Yatta.

Settlement expansion

In the meanwhile, parts of the illegal Israeli settlements of Mitzpe Yair, Avigayil, and Havat Ma’on outposts are actually located inside Firing Zone 918, the latter expanded as recently as last spring.

Words are not enough and governments need to take effective action to stop Israel’s policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid in Masafar Yatta and elsewhere.