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Israel delivers demolition warrants to Palestinians in South Hebron Hills

April 24, 2017 11:51 A.M. (Updated: April 24, 2017 3:34 P.M.)
(File)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities delivered demolition orders for two Palestinian-owned homes and a water well in the South Hebron Hills region of the occupied West Bank on Sunday, according to a southern West Bank committee spokesman.

Ratib al-Jubour told Ma'an that officers from Israel's Civil Administration escorted by armed Israeli forces raided the village of Khirbet Isfey east of Yatta on Sunday afternoon, and handed warrants to residents Ismail Hussein Awwad and Elayyan Awwad, notifying them that their two single-room residential structures and a water well were ordered to be demolished.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an that "stop work warrants were served concerning illegal constructions that were built in Khirbet Isfey in Area C, without receiving the required permits from the qualified authorities."

Khirbet Isfey is among dozens of small communities located in the Masafer Yatta area -- also known as the South Hebron Hills -- within Israel's "Firing Zone 918," and inside the occupied West Bank's Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control.

Palestinians are prohibited from entering firing zones without rarely granted permission from Israeli authorities, which has had “a serious humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and dramatically reduced the land available to them for residential and livelihood uses," according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Masafer Yatta residents were expelled at the time of the establishment of the firing zone in the 1970s and were eventually allowed back following a long court battle, but are under the constant threat of being expelled or seeing their homes demolished.

Meanwhile, the presence of around 3,000 Israeli settlers illegally living in the area has restricted Palestinian growth over the past decade while Israeli authorities reallocate local resources for settlement expansion.
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