Palestinians face losing their home on the (firing) range
About 1,500 Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills will likely be uprooted to make way for an Israeli military firing range.
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In its statement, the ministry contested residence claims by some of the 49 residents petitioning the court, stating that an investigation revealed that 38 of them actually had permanent residents in or near the nearby town of Yatta.Skip to next paragraph
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While humanitarian organizations and the European Union heavily criticized the planned evictions, Israel says it needs that particular area for training because of its unique topography and because of its security status.
“The vital importance of this firing zone to the IDF stems from the unique topographical character of the area, which allows for training methods specific to both small and large frameworks, from a squad to a battalion,” the Israeli defense ministry wrote last month.
"The area in question is characterized by numerous security threats, including the presence of illegal residents and criminal and terror elements. In response to these threats, ongoing and routine IDF exercises are carried out to deal with these security concerns. Part of the IDF's response to terror and criminal threats is a high level of familiarity with the area in question and those who inhabit it and thus a degree of surveillance is necessary," the IDF wrote in an e-mail to the Monitor this week.
Firing zones make up about 18 percent of the West Bank, and about 45 percent of all demolitions of Palestinian structures in the Israeli controlled sections of the West Bank since 2010 took place in such firing zones, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The West Bank is split into three zones – Area A, under full Palestinian control; Area B, under joint Israeli-Palestinian control; and Area C, under full Israeli control. For the estimated 150,000 Palestinians (a small fraction of the Palestinian population in the West Bank) living among the 300,000 Israeli settlers in Area C, building permits are extremely diffcult to get – but without them, Palestinians in Area C cannot legally build and establish permanent residency. Area C makes up about 60 percent of the West Bank.
The European Union has been pressuring Israel to change its policies in Area C and to issue more building permits for humanitarian projects and has also been critical of the demolition and evacuation plans for the South Hebron Hills.
“The intention by the Israeli Ministry of Defense to prohibit permanent residence in the firing zone and thus to evacuate 8 communities (…) entail the forced transfer of up to 1,800 people, contrary to Israel’s obligations as the Occupying Power,” the EU said in a statement released after a visit of EU diplomats in the firing zone the day after the IDF entered Jinba.