Officials from the Israeli armed forces have been making plans to forcibly move about 1,000 Palestinians from villages in Masafer Yatta, near southern Hebron in the southern West Bank, without the Israeli government’s knowledge, according to Israeli sources.
The army’s Central District Command began preparations in November to displace the residents so that the military can conduct regular training exercises in the area, the sources said.
The plan was said to have been presented to the government for the first time only last week, after the new administration took over, and the displacement of residents is due to take place this year. The sources said decision was communicated by officials from the Israeli Civil Administration, which oversees civilian affairs in the Occupied Territories, to the Palestinian Authority during a meeting last week in the West Bank.
The forced displacement of civilians from, or within, the Palestinian Territories is prohibited under international humanitarian law.
Representatives of the Palestinian Authority have told people in Masafer Yatta that the Civil Administration officials informed them of plans to displace residents from 12 villages, an increase over the eight that were included in the most recent, failed, petition on the issue submitted by the residents to the Supreme Court. Officials from the Israeli armed forces propose that the residents of the villages be moved to two new sites in the region and can choose the location of one of them.—AN