How zoning laws allow the Israeli Army to demolish Palestinian villages

More than a thousand Bedouin Palestinians living in the hills of Mount Hebron in the West Bank are at risk of losing their homes under zoning laws that allow the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to evict them at any time. In the 1980s, the IDF declared their homeland a so-called “firing zone”, or a closed military zone, allowing it to remove people and destroy their homes. In early May, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition to reclassify the area, meaning residents continue to live in fear of being forced out.

The sounds of shooting, bulldozers and diggers have become normal background sounds for people living in the 12 Bedouin villages and hamlets in the Masafer Yatta region. These communities are home to about a thousand people who are farmers and raise livestock.

These communities have been desperately trying to stop the demolition of their remaining homes, schools and health centres. They have launched petitions and even turned to the courts. However, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected their appeal in August 2022.

In early May, the Israeli Supreme Court authorised the demolition of a 30 square kilometre area to make way for an army shooting range. The buildings slated to be bulldozed included schools and health centres, as well as water tanks. All of these represent critical infrastructure for the region, which already faces a shortage of facilities.

Along with the military training exercises, there are frequent raids on the villages. The soldiers will burst into homes and tents and fire bullets to terrorise residents.

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