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Israeli forces level large swathe of land, demolish shack near Hebron

March 23, 2016 4:17 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2017 11:17 A.M.)
Israeli demolition in Khirbet Jenbeh on March 22, 2016. (Photo Credit: B'Tselem/Nasser Nawaj'a, File)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday leveled 40 dunams (9.88 acres) of land west of Hebron and demolished a tin shack in the Masafer Yatta area in the southern occupied West Bank, locals said.

Village spokesman Abdul-Rahman al-Tumazi told Ma'an that Israeli troops leveled the lands in the Suba area of the village of Idhna in order to illegaly annex it to a nearby Israeli settlement.

Al-Tumazi added that he believed the land was being leveled for the purpose of extracting stones -- considered the best in the area -- to use for construction for nearby illegal settlements.

Meanwhile, local committee membr Rateb al-Jbour said Israeli forces demolished a tin shack belonging to Nasser Khalil Abu Obeid in the village of Khirbet al-Tabban in the Masafer Yatta area.

Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for Israeli rights group B’Tselem, confirmed the demolition in Khirbet al-Tabban.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished a house, a shed, and an animal enclosure an confiscated a solar panel belonging to Shaher Ahmad Issa in Khirbet Jenbah also in the Masafer Yatta area.

Yatta municipality leader Mousa Makhamrah urged international organizations to act against Israeli violations on Palestinian lands.

According to B’Tselem, residents viewed the demolitions as a “message” from the Israeli state after they filed a petition against Israeli plans to expel them from the Masafer Yatta area to make way for the military training area known as “Firing Zone 918.”

The Masafer Yatta area -- also known as the South Hebron Hills -- lies almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords. Hundreds of Palestinians live in the area live in "Firing Zone 918," which was established in the 1970's.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Palestinians are prohibited from entering firing zones without rarely-granted permission from Israeli authorities, which has had “a serious humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and dramatically reduced the land available to them for residential and livelihood uses.”

Masafer Yatta residents were expelled at the time of the establishment of the firing zone and eventually allowed back following a long court battle, but are under the constant threat of demolition or being expelled.

Meanwhile, the presence of around 3,000 Israeli settlers illegally living in the area has restricted Palestinian growth over the past decade while the Israeli authorities reallocate local resources for settlement expansion.

While demolitions in the occupied West Bank decreased by 10 percent in 2015 from the previous year, OCHA reported that 539 Palestinian-owned structures were still demolished, leaving many Palestinians homeless.

Earlier this month, B'Tselem condemned an "unusually massive demolition campaign" across the West Bank that had left more than 435 Palestinians, including 234 minors, homeless since January.
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