West Bank: Israel's army to conduct live-fire drills near Palestinian villages
Residents of Masafer Yatta describe Israeli live-fire drills as a scare tactic meant to push them out
Israel’s army (IDF) will conduct a live-fire military exercise next week in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills, near Palestinian villages of residents who are facing forced removal.
The drill will come just over a month after Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the Palestinian residents’ claims to the area of land and accepted the IDF’s declaration of the region being a military training zone.
According to the IDF, the 3-day exercise will begin on Monday and will include light arms training.
Residents of the Masafer Yatta area – who describe Israeli live-fire exercises as a scare tactic meant to push them out – will not have to evacuate their homes for the drills, Haaretz reported.
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Israel declared Masafer Yatta a closed military zone known as “Firing Zone 918" in the 1980s. The IDF argues that the 7,400 acres of land along the Israel-West Bank border are “highly crucial” for training purposes.
In 1999, the IDF evicted the residents of 14 Palestinian villages in the area. But following petitions by the Palestinian residents, the High Court issued a temporary order allowing them to reside there pending a final court decision.
That decision came early last month when the court approved the military’s claim to the area, threatening some 1,200 Palestinians with displacement.
Lawyers representing the Palestinian residents will submit an appeal for another hearing on the residents’ petitions on Sunday, according to Haaretz.
In an announcement, the IDF said the drills will take place near seven villages, and that Palestinians living in the region were not given the exact location or times of the exercise.