A United Nations official today expressed serious concern over the more than 1,000 Palestinians living in the southern Hebron Hills region who have been forced to leave their houses after Israeli authorities designated the area as a fire zone for military training.
“These are already some of the most vulnerable families in the West Bank – forcibly displacing them from their homes and lands would have a serious immediate and long-term impact on their physical, socio-economic and emotional welfare” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Maxwell Gaylard.
Approximately 18 per cent of the West Bank has been designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone.” Most of these areas are located in Area C, over which Israel retains full control of security and planning.
Some 5,000 Palestinians, mostly Bedouin and herders, live in localities now designated as firing zones and many face serious restrictions on their freedom of movement, on their access to basic services including health and education, and are also subject to violence and harassment by soldiers.
“The humanitarian community reiterates its call to the Government of Israel to immediately halt demolitions of Palestinian homes and property and to establish a fair and equitable zoning and planning system,” Mr. Gaylard said.
“Israel, as an occupying power, has an obligation under international law to protect Palestinian civilians and to administer the territory in a manner that ensures their welfare and basic needs,” he added.
Since 2010, over 800 Palestinian civilians have been displaced from these areas by demolitions of their homes and property. Humanitarian organizations have also faced serious difficulties in providing assistance to these communities, with relief items confiscated and demolition orders issued against humanitarian donor-funded structures.