22 May 2005
Israel – Occupied Palestinian Territories
Illegal demolition of a house in South Hebron Hill: the poorest zone of the West Bank
This morning, 22 May 2005, at 9.30, in the small village of Halt-El Thabit, in Massafer Jatta area in South Hebron Hill, three IDF jeeps and two bulldozers destroyed illegally the only house of the above mentioned village. No demolition order had been delivered to the family, who had to leave their house in five minutes, trying to take with them as many of their belongings as they could. The family – consisting of eleven people – witnessed the demolition of their house without being able to do anything.
The army operation took about 15 minutes and the soldiers left the area immediately after the demolition.
The house had been built in 1998 next to the cave where the family had been living previously and where they will be obliged to live starting from today. According to the UN, Massafer Jatta area is the poorest of West Bank.
In this area people live in caves, some of them because they can’t afford a house, some of them because they don’t get the authorization to build from the Israeli administration, which has the total control of the area according to Oslo agreements.
In the area there are several settlements of Israeli settlers who belong to the most extremist Jewish religious groups. Frequent attacks are carried out by the settlers against the local Palestinian people. Several times international volunteers have also been attacked and wounded – sometimes seriously – while they were going to the pastureland with shepherds or while patrolling the Palestinian children from the small village of Tuba to their school in At-Tuwani.
There is also a number of outposts in this area, which have been built after 2001 and which – according to the Road-Map – should be dismantled.
Israeli Hight Court should pronounce by the end of this year on the right of the inhabitants of the area to live there.
As a matter of fact a plan by the Israeli Ministry of Defence for the forced desplacement of about 1300 inhabitants of the area has been drawn up in order to create a military area for manoeuvres, which are already being carried out notwithstanding the presence of the villages.