MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: APART POPULATION TRANSFER ISRAEL – EU slams High Court decision to evict over 1,000 Palestinians to make way for military zone
The case had been waged in court for over 20 years. IDF says the firing zone in the South Hebron Hills is essential for training over its distinctive geographic features. EU: The establishment of a firing zone cannot be considered an “imperative military reason” to transfer population.
The European Union on Tuesday denounced Israel for moving forward with the eviction of over 1,000 Palestinians to make way for a military training zone.
The High Court of Justice ruled on the case last week. The legal battle, waged for over 20 years, focuses on the removal of Palestinian civilians living in Masafer Yatta – a cluster of eight villages that stretches across 8,150 acres in the South Hebron Hills. The hamlets sit in the path of Firing Zone 918 – an area declared as a military training ground in the early 1980.
The military issued eviction ordered to the residents in 1999. The move was followed by a demolition operation, which saw the residents appeal to the High Court to stop it, triggering a decades-long proceeding.
In its ruling, High Court said that the Palestinian petitioners had failed to successfully prove they had lived in the villages as permanent residents before the army declared the area a training zone.
“Settlement expansion, demolitions and evictions are illegal under international law,” Brussels said in a statement. “The EU condemns such possible plans and urges Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian and international human rights law.”
The statement said that “the establishment of a firing zone cannot be considered an ‘imperative military reason’ to transfer the population under occupation.”
During court proceedings, the IDF argued the firing zone was “essential for military training due to its distinctive geographic features.” It further argued that those living in Masafer Yatta were not permanent residents of the area when the firing zone was declared, and therefore have no rights to the land.
“The vital importance of this firing zone to the Israel Defense Forces stems from its unique topographical character, which allows for training methods specific to both small and large frameworks,” the military had said.