Israeli occupation forces demolished Tuesday, 3 January 2023 five Palestinian-inhabited houses in Yatta town, south of the city of Hebron, according to a local activist.
Israeli forces accompanied by two military bulldozers invaded the Ma‘in community and tore down a 170-square-meter inhabited house belonging to Palestinian man Hamad Mohammad under the pretext of building without a license, reported Rateb Jbour, anti-colonial-settlement activist.
Meanwhile, Israeli gun-toting troopers used a bulldozer to raze four 80 square meters houses belonging to four members of the Jabarin Palestinian family, reducing them to rubble, citing the same flimsy pretext, stated Fuad al-‘Amour, a local anti-colonial-settlement activist.
Al-‘Amour added that this was the fourth time these houses were demolished within two years as a means to forcibly displace the indigenous Palestinian communities and take over their land in favor of colonial settlement illegal expansion.
The newly sworn-in Israeli government is preparing for the forcible eviction of eight of the 28 hamlets in the Masafer Yatta area.
Head of the Masafer Yatta Village Council, Nidal Younis, said the Israeli occupation authorities had decided to carry out the collective eviction of the indigenous Palestinian residents of the eight hamlets.
In May 2022, Israel’s top court gave the army the green light to forcibly expel some 1,300 Palestinians living in twelve villages or hamlets making up the Masafer Yatta area, which relies heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, marking one of the largest expulsions carried out by the State of Israel in recent decades.
It has been designated as a closed Israeli military zone for training since the 1980s and is accordingly referred to as Firing Zone 918.
Since this declaration, indigenous Palestinian residents have been at risk of forced eviction, demolition, and forcible transfer. The two villages of Khirbet Sarura and Kharoubeh no longer exist after their homes were demolished.
“Approximately 20 percent of the West Bank has been designated as ‘Firing Zones,’ affecting over 5,000 Palestinians from 38 communities,” the UN OCHA said.
It added: “Currently, Masafer Yatta is home to 215 Palestinian households, including about 1,150 people, of which 569 are children.”
In an effort to force Palestinians out of the area, the Israeli occupation authorities have deprived residents of access to basic amenities including drainage and permission to construct to meet the needs of the growing population.