MSF strongly condemned Friday, January 20th, the Israeli plans to evict Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank in Palestine.
Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta are set to be displaced following the Israeli government‘s endorsement of the plan.
“This plan would mean the imminent forcible displacement of almost the entire population of Masafer Yatta,” said David Cantero Pérez, MSF head of mission. “Where are all these families to go? This is completely unacceptable,” Pérez noted.
The Israeli occupation forces have implemented a range of measures in Masafer Yatta in recent months, such as installing checkpoints, confiscating vehicles, and enforcing curfews and movement restrictions, even in medical emergencies.
Following the recent Israeli government announcement, pressure has been mounting on people to leave the area. These measures have had a severe effect on Palestinian‘s freedom of movement, mental health, and access to basic services such as medical care.
During the 1980s, the Israeli occupation designated Masafer Yatta as a military firing zone. Since then, Palestinians living in 12 villages situated in the area have had their homes demolished numerous times and have lived in the fear of being displaced by force.
By May 2022, the Israeli Supreme Court‘s ruling had further deteriorated the situation for Palestinians in Masafer Yatta by eliminating all legal hindrances to their displacement from the area in order to create a military zone.
As of January 2023, Palestinian officials had verified that most of Masafer Yatta‘s residents have been issued demolition orders and now face the danger of being forcibly removed.
An elderly Palestinian woman recounted to MSF staff the time that Israeli occupation forces arrived to tear her home down for the fourth time in a span of two years, expressing that she felt “suffocated, blind and helpless.” She explained that her children were at school when the demolition began, but they returned to witness the destruction in stunned silence.
Another resident told MSF: “They choose the winter for demolishing houses. Tonight, our family will sleep in the car, or in a tent in the cold. It’s going to be 5 degrees Celsius tonight.”
Elderly and ill Palestinians have shared their stories of waiting for extended periods of time at checkpoints and having to walk long distances to get to medical facilities. Additionally, even in the case of medical emergencies, people‘s movement is limited.
“You have to be on the point of dying to be allowed through the checkpoints,” one resident told MSF staff.
“These measures have severely affected the residents of Masafer Yatta and made their lives unbearable,” says Cantero Pérez. “They live in constant fear.”
“The mental health impact on residents, particularly on children, cannot be understated,” says Cantero Pérez. “In periods where more home demolitions occur, our mental health team receives more people with symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
MSF urgently requested that the Israeli occupation government end the eviction strategy and stops enforcing rules that obstruct Palestinians in Masafer Yatta from receiving primary services, including medical aid. MSF also implored the global community to take all critical measures to defend the people of Masafer Yatta and guarantee that their human rights are respected.
In 2022, MSF provided 3,066 medical consultations in Masafer Yatta, operating three clinics in the area. These clinics provided basic health care, including mental health support, sexual and reproductive health services (with a focus on women and children), and care for those with chronic diseases.
Source: Doctors Without Borders