UN, EU Diplomats Visit Masafer Yatta, Condemns Israeli Forced Displacement

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian structures in Masafer Yatta. (Photo: via B'tselem)

Heads of Mission of the European Union and like-minded countries, together with the United Nations, visited the Masafer Yatta area in the south Hebron Hills on Thursday and heard from its Palestinian residents about their concerns regarding the impending uprooting and demolition of their homes, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Following the visit, the diplomats warned that forced displacement is a “clear violation of international law.”

Some 1200 Palestinians who live in the Masafer Yatta area, including over 500 children, are currently threatened by mass demolition, displacement, and forced transfer.

“This visit comes after Israeli authorities increased coercive measures in the area, including military training, home demolitions, blocking civilian movement, impeding humanitarian aid operations and issuing demolition orders,” said the EU mission in a statement.

Diplomats met residents who explained the devastating impact of the increasingly difficult living conditions and the fear of losing their homes and livelihoods, following the Israeli Supreme Court ruling on May 4, permitting the Israeli army to evict the residents in order to turn the area into a military training and firing zone.

Since the ruling, Israeli authorities have demolished dozens of family homes and animal shelters, issued over 30 additional demolition orders and a seizure order to allow for the construction of a patrol road, reactivated military training in the area for the first time in years and impeded the delivery of humanitarian aid to families in need.

“I am deeply troubled by the testimonies I have heard today and by the coercive measures taken by Israeli Security Forces that could lead to the forced transfer of the largest community in decades in the occupied Palestinian territory,” the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, said in a statement.

“These actions are in clear violation of international law and basic human rights. By pursuing these actions notably in Area C representing 60% of the West Bank, Israel is not only acting in contravention to its obligations as an occupying power but is also taking us further away from a two state solution with a viable and contiguous Palestinian state at its core,” he added.

As reiterated on May 10 by the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative, settlement expansion, demolitions and evictions are illegal under international law, said the statement.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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