Monday, 13 May, 2024

Israeli court rules in favour of expulsion of over 1,000 Palestinians

Supreme Court rejects petition against expulsion, paving way for demolition of eight villages in a rocky, arid area near Hebron known to Palestinians as Masafer Yatta.

“This proves that this court is part of the occupation,” says Nidal Abu Younis, Masafer Yatta Mayor. (Reuters)

Israel's Supreme Court hasrejected a petition against the expulsion of more than 1,000Palestinian inhabitants of a rural part of the occupied WestBank in an area that Israel has designated for militaryexercises.

After two decades of inconclusive legal manoeuvring, theSupreme Court issued its ruling late on Wednesday, paving theway for the demolition of eight small villages in a rocky, aridarea near Hebron known to Palestinians as Masafer Yatta.

In its ruling, the court said it had found the Palestiniandwellers, whose inhabitants have kept a distinct,generations-long nomadic way of life, making a living fromfarming and herding, had not been permanent residents of thearea when the Israeli military first declared it a firing zonein the 1980s.

Masafer Yatta residents and Israeli rights groups say thatmany of the Palestinian families have been permanently residingin the 3,000 hectares area since before Israelcaptured the West Bank, in the 1967 Middle East War.

"This proves that this court is part of the occupation,"said Nidal Abu Younis, Masafer Yatta Mayor.

"We are not going toleave our homes. We will stay here," he said.

READ MORE:Palestinians outraged over plans to weaken their UN agency

'Unprecedented consequences'

The European Union Delegation to the Palestinians said the expulsion constitutes a breach of international law.

"As theoccupying power, Israel has the obligation to protect thePalestinian population & not displace it," it said on Twitter.

Israel's military said that the area had been declared afiring range because of security needs and that at the time, itwas uninhabited. In the three decades since Palestinians hadbuilt in the area without a legal permit, the military said.

The court said the door was still open for the villagers toagree with the military on using parts of the land foragricultural purposes and urged the sides to seek a compromise.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), who alongwith Masafer Yatta residents petitioned against the expulsion,said the verdict would have "unprecedented consequences."

"The High Court has officially authorised leaving entire families, with their children and their elderly, without a roof over their heads," ACRI said in a statement.

READ MORE: UN experts: Palestinians subjected to 'racial segregation' in E Jerusalem

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