SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Eight villages face expulsion in Firing Zone 918

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9 March 2013
SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Eight villages face expulsion in Firing Zone 918

Imagine that your neighborhood was declared a firing
range. You are threatened with forced evacuation. Demolition orders are issued
for your home, your church and the school your children attend. Your land will cease
to belong to you, and your livestock will be removed.

This is what a thousand Palestinians living in
Masafer Yatta face.

Twelve villages lie within the area Israel claims as
firing zone 918. Residents of four of the villages have been told they are
excluded from the attempted eviction because the ammunition being used by
soldiers training for war near their homes is not live. The one thousand residents
of the other eight villages, half of them children, could lose their homes, schools,
crops and livestock, their mosques and their way of life within the year.

  House demolition, South Hebron Hills

These Palestinian families were forcibly removed by
the Israeli military in 1999 and many of their homes, wells and animal shelters
were destroyed. Some of the region’s residents returned in 2000 and live under
constant threat of home demolition, settler violence and military harassment.

On 16 January 2013 the Association for Civil Rights
in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition on their behalf and the Israeli court granted
a temporary order preventing forcible transferring of the families pending a
further decision. The temporary order is all that is currently preventing the
forced removal of the families living in Masafer Yatta.

During the past month soldiers have repeatedly
driven large vehicles across planted fields, confiscated residents’ cars,
cameras, phones and livestock, landed helicopters next to dwellings and
livestock, and threatened families with imminent eviction and destruction of
their homes. Children in the region find unexplored ordnance as they walk to
and from school, and families are awakened during the night by the sound of
repeated firing and by military helicopters and jeeps driving near their homes.

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