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Palestinian displacement

Largest Palestinian displacement in decades looms after Israeli court ruling

The ruling opened the way for one of the largest displacements since Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. But residents are refusing to leave, hoping their resilience and international pressure will keep Israel from carrying out the evictions.

INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM

The United Nations and European Union condemned the court ruling and urged Israel to stop the demolitions and evictions.

In a transcript of a 1981 ministerial meeting on settlements uncovered by Israeli researchers, then-Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, who later became prime minister, suggested the Israeli military expand training zones in the South Hebron Hills to dispossess the Palestinian residents of their land.

“We want to offer you more training zones,” Sharon said, given “the spread of Arab villagers from the hills toward the desert”.

According to the United Nations, the Israeli authorities reject most Palestinian applications for building permits in “Area C”, a swathe of land making up two-thirds of the West Bank where Israel has full control and where most Jewish settlements are located. In other areas of the West Bank, Palestinians exercise limited self-rule.

UN data also showed that Israel has marked nearly 30% of Area C as military firing zones. The designations have put 38 of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities at increased risk of forced displacement.

Meanwhile, settlements in the area have continued to expand, further restricting Palestinian movement and the space available for residents to farm and graze their sheep and goats.

“All of these olives are mine,” said Mahmoud Ali Najajreh of al-Markez, another hamlet at risk, pointing to a grove in the near distance. “How can we leave?”

The 3,500 olive trees he planted two years ago – he counted each one – were beginning to bud.

“We will wait for the dust to settle, then build again,” Najajreh told Reuters. “We would rather die than leave here.”

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