February 13, 2014
A Palestinian shepherd who was grazing his flock near the village of Jinba in Masafer Yatta, West Bank, was detained today for over one hour by Israeli soldiers. Jinba lies inside Israeli Firing Zone 918, where 1000 residents in 8 villages face possible forced removal by the Israeli military, pending a legal case.
The legal situation for families living in Jinba and seven other villages in Masafer Yatta is extremely tenuous. In September 2013, the Israeli High Court of Justice held a hearing on a petition filed by the families of Masafer Yatta. The petition seeks to prevent the Israeli military from forcibly removing 1000 Palestinians now living in eight villages in Firing Zone 918.
At the close of the hearing, the Justices suggested that the parties enter a mediation process to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. On October 27, the court named a mediator and allocated a period of 4 months for the mediation process along with the possibility of an extension. The initial four-month period will expire at the end of February 2014.
In 1999 the Israeli military told the residents of Masafer Yatta that they were “dwelling illegally in a firing zone.” Soldiers arrived and forcibly removed over 700 people, including women, elderly and children. The soldiers destroyed homes, animal shelters and cisterns, and confiscated property.
During 2000 and 2001 the residents returned to their lands and began appealing to the court for the right to live in their villages. Since 2000 the villages have rebuilt homes and agricultural structures which were demolished by the Israeli military, and have constructed three schools and a clinic, all of which have received demolition orders from Israel.
The legal petition seeks a formal recognition of the right of the villages to remain, and an end to end the threat of eviction which has hung over the residents since they returned to their lands in 2000.