Update on petition regarding Firing Zone 918

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Residents of Firing Zone 918 to the State: We are Not Willing for You to Expel Us

The residents of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills have rejected the State’s unacceptable proposal that they evacuate much of the area for a protracted period in order to permit the IDF to hold training operations. The proposal was submitted in the framework of petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Attorney Shlomo Lecker, against the unlawful declaration of a firing zone in the area.

A hearing was held two months ago on 23 March 2016 with respect to the Firing Zone 918 petition, in which the Palestinians are fighting for their right to remain in their homes. Despite an unsuccessful mediation proceeding that lasted over two years – during which the State raised a number of poor proposals – the State has now outdone itself by raising an even worse proposal. ACRI’s assessment is that this proposal was not submitted in good faith and reflects irrelevant considerations.

According to the proposed outline, 68.6 percent of the area will be used for training with live ammunition for a period of 100 days per year, including during the farming season. The training operations will require the eviction of over 700 people for extended periods of time. The State’s proposal proves that it refuses to seriously consider the fact that there are Palestinians living in the area, who make a living from farming and shepherding in the area and whose children study in the villages that the State wishes to evict. Moreover, the intention to evict the residents during the farming season shows that the expected damage to farmland has not been taken into account; despite the fact that such damage was caused in the past, from training that did not include live ammunition.

Surprisingly, the proposed plan includes the villages of Maghayir al-‘Abid and Mufqara, which the Minister for Defence already removed four years ago from the active section of the firing zone. The HCJ adopted a ruling at the time, on the basis of the Minister’s announcement. The current plan ignores the court ruling.

“To date, the State has failed to explain why this zone is vital for military needs in the West Bank and why it is not possible to use the vast firing zones in Israel instead. The State changes its grounds from time to time and has dragged its feet for 16 years of litigation, raising serious questions about the validity and sincerity of its claims,” said Attorney Tamar Feldman, director of ACRI’s Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories Department. The declaration of the firing zone is contrary to international law, and the attempt to evict the residents constitutes a gross violation of the laws of occupation.

Accordingly, the residents have again asked the Court to issue an interim injunction requiring the State to explain why it insists on expelling the residents from their homes and land.

For more information:

Please click here to access the residents’ response to the State proposal, which was submitted to the Court (in Hebrew).

Please click here to access background information and an Info Sheet on The 12 Villages of Firing Zone 918 in the South Hebron Hills

 

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Categories: Area C Villages, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Property, Use of Force

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