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Israeli forces order Jordan Valley evacuation for training

Dec. 31, 2012 11:54 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 3, 2013 6:03 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces have delivered evacuation orders to around 100 Palestinian families in the northern Jordan Valley ahead of a military training exercise, a local official said Monday.

The evacuation affects around 1,000 Palestinians living in rural communities around Wadi al-Maleh, local mayor Arif Daraghma told Ma’an.

They must leave their homes by Wednesday for 48 hours, or they will be subject to penalties, he said.

The orders explain that Israeli troops will be holding military drills in the area.

"To ensure the safety of the local inhabitants, temporary eviction notices were distributed today to the residents of the illegal structures located in a closed military zone to be used in the exercise," Israel's army said in a statement.

The residents will be allowed to return after the military exercises have been completed.

"It should be emphasized that these structures, located in closed military zones actively used by the IDF, are illegal in nature," the statement added.

This week's evacuation follows a similar exercise in November, when hundreds of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley were ordered from their homes ahead of a military exercise in the area, which is designated a closed military zone.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Israel has designated around 18 percent of the West Bank as closed military zones, an area roughly equal in size to Area A, the 17.7 percent of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control.

Around 5,000 Palestinians live in Israeli military firing zones in the West Bank, UNOCHA says. Since 2010, Israel has demolished the homes of 820 Palestinians located in firing zones.

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