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Palestinians vow to remain on West Bank land regardless of defeat in decades-old authorized battle | CNN


The chief of a Palestinian village council within the West Bank vowed Friday to proceed combating eviction from land the Israeli army is claiming as a firing vary, regardless of an Israeli Supreme Court choice towards the Palestinians in a case that has been in court docket for greater than twenty years.

“We will all resist and stay in our lands; we have no other place to go to,” Masafer Yatta council chief Nidal Abu Younis instructed CNN on Friday.

“Israel is seeking, through these attempts, to separate the villages in the Hebron Mountains from the northern Negev in the occupied lands, and break families’ ties,” Abu Younis stated.

Israel’s High Court of Justice Wednesday dominated towards the Palestinian villagers, accepting the Israeli state’s declare that residents started squatting within the space after it was declared a firing zone by the army in 1981.

The court docket transfer legally clears the way in which for the eviction of some 1,000 Palestinians from eight villages on the outskirts of the town of Hebron.

The United Nations, European Union and Israeli human rights teams all criticized the court docket choice on Thursday.

Lynn Hastings, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, stated the Palestinian petitioners, having exhausted home authorized cures, are actually “unprotected and at risk of imminent displacement.”

She known as on Israel “to cease demolitions and evictions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in line with its obligations under international law.”

The European Union stated evicting the Palestinians would quantity to “forcible transfer from their homes and destruction of their communities,” which it stated was prohibited underneath worldwide legislation.

“As the occupying power, Israel has the obligation to protect the Palestinian population and not displace it,” the European bloc stated.

And the Association for Civil Rights in Israel – which represented the Palestinian villagers in court docket – accused the court docket of approving a transfer that will “leave families, children and elderly without a roof over their heads.” It stated the ruling was “unusual and would carry severe consequences.”

Tensions are excessive between Israel and the Palestinians after a sequence of violent incidents in latest weeks. Dozens have died in assaults in Israel and the West Bank since March 22.

Israeli soldiers take part in a military exercise in Masafer Yatta near Hebron on February 2, 2021.

Evicting the Palestinian residents would separate Hebron from different villages on the southern outskirts of the town.

High Court Justices David Mintz, Ofer Grosskopf and Isaac Amit Wednesday not solely rejected claims by the Palestinians that that they had been dwelling within the space earlier than 1981 however ordered every of them to pay 20,000 shekels ($5,900) in bills.

“We never believed that Israeli courts would bring us justice. The decision was not a surprise to any of us,” council chief Abu Younis stated.

“We, the families of Masafer, have papers that prove our ownership of our land,” he insisted.

The High Court rejected that assertion.

The Masafer Yatta households introduced aerial footage as proof that the villages had existed within the space for 45 years. But Israel argued that Palestinian residents started squatting within the space after it was declared Firing Zone 918, and that till then it was solely used as seasonal pasture land for his or her livestock.

Justice Mintz stated within the court docket verdict that the query of whether or not the realm was a spot of everlasting residence is “not complicated at all,” since aerial footage from the realm previous to 1980 exhibits no indication of a residential presence there. Mintz additionally famous that the realm was utilized by the air power to conduct simulated airstrikes within the 1990s.

The court docket rejected the declare that turning the realm right into a closed army zone was opposite to worldwide legislation, and stated that when worldwide legislation contradicts Israeli legislation, the latter prevails.

The Palestinians argued that they and their households have been dwelling in these villages, whose houses are constructed inside pure caves, since earlier than Israel was established in 1948.

While the Israeli army declared the realm to be a firing zone in 1981, residents remained comparatively undisturbed till the late 1990s, in response to the High Court ruling.

But in 1999, the army and the Civil Administration evicted greater than 700 residents.

The army scaled again the scale of the proposed firing zone in April 2012, at which level Israel requested that eight villages be demolished, as an alternative of 12.

The High Court then steered that the Palestinians withdraw their authorized motion, however two different petitions have been submitted in 2013. The court docket dismissed them.

In its ruling, the High Court accepted the army’s place that the land was crucial for its wants.

Abu Younis stated Friday the villagers would proceed to withstand, regardless of the authorized defeat.

“Soldiers evacuated the residents of the villages by trucks to other areas [in 1999], but the residents returned on the same night against the will of the occupation,” he stated, referring to Israel. “The same will happen if this court decision becomes reality.”

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