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Israel to demolish Palestinian structures in Hebron Hills

Nov. 20, 2017 12:50 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 20, 2017 12:28 P.M.)
Hebron Hills (File)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities reportedly notified Palestinians on Sunday of a decision to demolition residential and agricultural structures in the south Hebron Hills, or Masafer Yatta area, of the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency, Israeli forces handed a written demolition notice to locals in the area against a number of residential structures and a livestock barns in the village of Khirbet Shaab al-Butum.

According to Wafa, the barns were built with funding from the European Union.

Khirbet Shaab al-Butum is among dozens of small communities located in the Masafer Yatta area which falls 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.

In 2016, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Palestine warned of a heightened risk of the forcible transfer of Bedouins in the occupied West Bank, amid an unprecedented surge in demolitions and land confiscations across the occupied territory this year.

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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