United Nations human rights experts urged Israel to halt its forced evictions of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta after an Israeli court rejected appeals against the eviction orders.
The Israeli court rejected the appeals in early May, paving the way for evictions of Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta which Israel designated as a military training site called “Firing Zone 918.”
“Following the judgement of the Israeli High Court of Justice earlier this month, around 1,200 Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta, including 500 children, face imminent risks of forced evictions, arbitrary displacement and forcible transfer, in serious breach of international humanitarian and human rights laws,” the U.N. experts wrote in a press release issued May 16, 2022.
Masafer Yatta, located in the southern end of the occupied West Bank, is comprised of multiple Palestinian villages home to over 1,000 people. Israel designated Masafer Yatta a closed military training site in the 1980s, and ruled that the Palestinians in the area were not permanent residents when the designation was made.
A legal battle to protect the Palestinian residents from eviction then ensued for decades but ended after Israeli courts concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the Palestinians’ residency.
U.N. experts wrote, “By upholding this policy to drive Palestinians out of Masafer Yatta, the Israeli judicial system has given carte blanche (a blank check) to the Israeli Government to perpetuate the practice of systematic oppression against Palestinians.”
The U.N. experts went on to state that evictions done for the sake of holding military trainings amount to a war crime. “How can this be given priority over the rights of the Palestinian residents? Israel has shown no ‘imperative military necessity’ to vacate the area. The displacement of the Masafer Yatta communities may thus amount to a war crime,” they wrote.
The scathing report from U.N. human rights experts concluded by calling on the international community to take action and not be silent when addressing such actions by Israel that violate international and humanitarian laws.
The U.N. experts wrote, “A Court that does not provide justice based on international norms and that perpetuates the violations of fundamental human rights of people who have been under military occupation for 55 years, becomes itself part of the structural system of oppression.”