Halting evictions of Palestinian families from Masafer Yatta – CIDSE

Halting evictions of Palestinian families from Masafer Yatta

CIDSE call to action

On 4 May 2022, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the eviction of over 1 400 Palestinian men, women and children from 12 villages in the region of Masafer Yatta, in the south Hebron Hills region of the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territory.[1].
In its ruling, the Court said it had found the villagers had not been permanent residents of the area when the Israeli military first declared it a firing zone in the 1980s – despite, extensive evidence to the contrary.[2]  CIDSE and its Members urge the EU and all Member States to protect the families under imminent risk of eviction by demanding the Israeli government to reverse the eviction orders and stop any further settlements from being built in the region.


The people of Masafer Yatta have been under the threat of evictions since the area’s unilateral designation by the Israeli government as a firing zone in 1981.[3] In 1999, the villagers were expelled from their homes, but came back after an injunction filed at the Israeli High Court of Justice allowed for their return pending the ruling of their case. Following 21 years of long legal battles, it was eventually the Supreme Court which ruled against the community on 4 May 2022, thus allowing the government to render the villagers homeless and without access to their means of livelihood.

These evictions aim to create space for the introduction of 4 000 new settlement units in the south Hebron Hills[4], continuing Israel’s aggressive settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory which have as end result, a process of population transfer. Israel’s most recent plan of settlement expansion represents such egregious violations of international law that they earned a rebuke from the usually sympathetic US government.[5]

The area of Masafer Yatta has furthermore been the site of settler violence aimed at intimidating Palestinians out of their homes, with the most blatant incident happening last year when dozens of settlers stoned villagers, destroying property and injuring 12 people, including a 3-year-old boy[6]. This context of violence has been encouraged by the Israeli army, which stands idly by during acts of aggression by Israel settlers and which has also been actively suppressing Human Rights Defenders in the region. As an example of this pattern of repression, on 8 May 2022, soldiers assaulted freelance reporter Basil al-Adraa while he covered enforcement of a forced demolition order.[7] Basil himself lives in one of the villages under the threat of eviction.

By continuing with its aggressive eviction and settlement policy, Israel is in flagrant disrespect to Art. 49 of the IV Geneva convention, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2334.[8] Furthermore, it fuels even further the Israeli de-facto annexation of the Palestinian territory which makes Palestinian self-determination impossible.

In conclusion, CIDSE urges the EU and its Member States to: 

  1. Take immediate steps to protect Palestinians in Masafer Yatta at risk of mass forcible transfer in violation of international humanitarian law.
  2. Call upon the Israeli authorities to respect the rights of journalists and Human Rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian Territory.
  3. Implement regulations banning the trade with illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  4. Actively support accountability for violations of international law by all parties, including protecting the work and independence of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

[1] https://www.btselem.org/press_release/20220505_international_community_must_prevent_the_forcible_transfer_of_masafer_yatta_communities_approved_by_hcj
[2] Documents produced by Israel’s own Ministry of defense attesting the area had been settled by Palestinian villagers before 1967 (https://law.acri.org.il/en/2016/02/21/firing-zone-918-infosheet/)
[3] https://law.acri.org.il/en/2016/02/21/firing-zone-918-infosheet/
[4] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israels-new-settlement-build-blatant-challenge-us-says-palestinian-authority
[5] https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20211026-in-biden-shift-us-denounces-israel-on-settlements
[6] https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-masked-settlers-attack-palestinians-with-stones-injuring-12-including-3-year-old-1.10249163 
[7] https://www.972mag.com/soldiers-violence-basil-al-adraa/
[8] According the UN Security Council resolution 2334, the Palestinian territory of the West Bank is recognized to being under Israeli military occupation, with any eviction or settlement expansion qualifying as a violation of international law.

Photo: Village of Khirbet Jenbah in Masafer Yatta. Credits: Oren Ziv, Activestills, 2013

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