Campaign for the abolition of "Firing Zone 918" in South Hebron Hills

Leave a comment

UPDATE: from the 8th June Israeli military trainings close to the Palestinian villages of Jinba and Al Mirkez (Masafer Yatta)

DSC00026 From 8th June to today, Israeli military training is underway on a Palestinian-owned fields, close to the Palestinian villages of Jinba and Al Mirkez, in Masafer Yatta. Hundreds of soldiers have occupied the land in front of the nearby Israeli military base with tents and military equipment and were scattered in groups around the villages to carry out the exercises. During the training the Palestinian population suffered heavy restrictions on freedom of movement, the fields were damaged by military activities and shepherds were chased away with their flocks. Some of these reported that they were beaten by the soldiers. During the night, the exercises were continued with the use of explosives and soldiers have gone even within the village, frightening the people further. The villages of Jinba and Al Mirkez are within the Firing Zone 918 and, pending the decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice, are still under the threat of expulsion by the Israeli army. Israeli military training is still in progress.



Leave a comment

P/R: Masafer Yatta: Israeli military training is damaging Palestinian harvest

Despite the mediation process, the Israeli army continues to train on private Palestinian property

(Italian follows)

May 14, 2014

At Tuwani – On May 12 and 13, Israeli military training took place on a Palestinian-owned fields, close to the Palestinian villages of Jinba and Al Mirkez, in Masafer Yatta.
On May 12, from around 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm three army tanks went out of the near Israeli military base in order to train inside Palestinian owned fields, damaging the harvest.
Around 5 pm, four military tanks reentered Palestinian owned fields in order to start training once again, but when one of the tanks tried to enter a field that was still undamaged, several Palestinians stopped it by standing in front of it. At this point the soldiers returned inside the military base.

On May 13, the training was still taking place in the same fields of the day before and also in other undamaged ones. From around 11.15 am to around 12.00 pm four tanks went out of the near Israeli military base. Initially the Israeli tanks took position in the fields where few palestinian men were collecting the crops, disturbing their working activities. Because of this, other 20 Palestinian men and children who were working in the closest fields ran there in order to monitor the situation. Palestinian people tried to prevent the military operations but, anyway, the tanks heavily damaged the fields, most of the time intentionally increasing the damage through unusual operation. In the closest hills and fields many other Israeli soldiers trained themselves using weapons.

As for the legal issue regarding the South Hebron Hills area denominated Firing Zone 918 by the Israeli army, the time period given by the Civil Administration of the Occupied Territories to national and international organizations to access the area, as well as to rehabilitate the roads inside of it, will expire on the 15th of May. During the trial the Israeli High Court of Justice’s magistrates stated a mediation between the State and more than one thousand Palestinians who risk to be expelled from their homes and properties. By this decision the magistrates are trying to end the legal battle begun 15 years ago. Also by the mediation process the Palestinian residents reiterated their right to stay and live in their lands in Masafer Yatta.
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident:

For further information:
Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Young Palestinian man arrested by the Israeli army in Al Fakheit, Masafer Yatta

On march 27 at 12:08 pm on the road that leads to the Palestinian village of Al Fakheit, Masafer Yatta area, an Israeli army jeep chased a Palestinian car that was transporting some sheep. At 12:12 pm both the cars stopped in front of the school of the village. The young Palestinian man ran from his car into the yard of the school, the two Army soldiers ran after him. The chase ended under the eyes of Palestinian men, women and children of the school. Finally, after repeated violences on the Palestinian man, he was arrested and brought away on the army jeep.

Leave a comment

IPS: When Home Becomes a Firing Zone

By Pierre Klochendler

JINBA, Occupied West Bank, Dec 26 2013 (IPS) –

Jinba is in the crosshair of ‘Firing Zone 918’ – and ‘Firing Zone 918’ is a microcosm of the Israeli occupation. Together with seven other communities, Jinba is slated for demolition to make way for an Israeli training ground. Forced eviction hangs over a thousand Palestinians. Mahmoud Raba’i is sowing wheat in his field. Winter is here, but it hasn’t rained a single drop in the rugged, unforgiving, South Hebron Hills. “God willing, rain will come and fill the wells,” the Palestinian farmer murmurs. Jinba is home to 300 Palestinian tent- and cave-dwellers who struggle for the right to carry on living on their land like their forefathers. “We and our children live here; our sheep graze here. They want us to carry our land on our back and leave.” It’s a furrow these subsistence wheat farmers and sheepherders have been ploughing generation after generation for over 150 years – steadily, relentlessly. “This is our land,” Raba’i seethes. “We and our children live here; our sheep graze here. They want us to carry our land on our back and leave.” Jabarin enters his cave. Mattresses are piled up against dark walls near tools. Toothbrushes, a comb, are strewn on a makeshift shelf. A stove lights his weathered face. “My grandfather, my father, and I were born here.” The villagers in Jinba are among the West Bank’s poorest Palestinians. Living off the land isn’t easy when the land is under occupation. In all 60.2 percent of the West Bank is designated ‘Area C’ – that is, under full Israeli military and administrative control. The largest community in the South Hebron Hills, the village of Jinba, is in ‘Area C‘. The village has no access road, no running water and no electricity, no building permits, only demolition orders. “We were handed demolition orders against the concrete poured on the floors of our tents and clinic. For everything we do, there’s a demolition order,” Jabarin tells IPS. Jinba abuts Israel. Here, the infamous ‘Green Line’ which marked the border between Israel and the West Bank prior to the 1967 War is a white furrow crisscrossing the desert. Strange boundary stones mark an area encompassing 12 Palestinian communities. On them, commanding inscriptions in English, Arabic and Hebrew: “Danger. Firing Area. Entrance Forbidden.” “Let’s get rid of the occupation,” reads the Arabic and Hebrew graffiti sprayed on the opposite side of a marker. “Why a firing zone here? There’s enough open space inside Israel. They want to expel us and move us into heavily populated Palestinian areas. This firing zone’s just an excuse for Israel to pursue its land grab,” asserts Jabarin. In contrast, ten illegal settlement outposts located within the firing zone are under no such threat. Head of Jinba and guardian of his community, Jabarin incessantly patrols the village by foot to protect it from Palestinian smugglers and workers who cross into Israel illegally and, above all, from incursions by the Israeli military stationed in the area. He documents the routine raids for the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, and is one of the petitioners to the Supreme Court in Israel in a 14-year legal battle against the firing zone. In September, the court interceded in favour of mediation between the Israeli authorities and the Palestinians. But the pressure hasn’t stopped. Jabarin’s daughter Nawal, 12, is scared. Only a fortnight ago, Jabarin was arrested on suspicion of arson at a military base. “I wouldn’t have been released after eight days if I wasn’t innocent,” Jabarin scoffs. The legal battle against forced eviction from ‘Firing Zone 918’ is part of a three-decade war of attrition waged by the Israeli authorities and local settlers against 4,000 impoverished Palestinian dwellers in the South Hebron Hills. Land expropriation, harassment and acts of vandalism perpetrated by settlers against them are common practice, and the lack of law enforcement is glaring. Earlier this month, a military squad was seen inspecting 25 uprooted olive trees in ATuwani area. In a separate incident, two days earlier, in Umm elAra’is, Israeli troops cracked down on Palestinians who complained of a settler trespassing on their land. A week earlier on the same spot, soldiers stood idly by while settlers attacked Palestinians.The Palestinian Authority is powerless in the face of these acts as it doesn’t control the area. In solidarity with the peasants, peace activists have entered the fray. Founded in 2009 by two Israeli physicists-activists, ‘Comet’ is a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative. Its purpose – to provide basic solar and wind energy access to the off-grid, marginalised Palestinian communities of the area. “Our NGO is political in essence,” Comet’s co-founder Elad Orian tells IPS. “We support their struggle to stay on their land.” ‘Comet’ builds and installs hybrid wind and solar mini-grids. These stand-alone systems provide about two kilowatt-hours per family per day to 2,000 Palestinians. Rural electrification facilitates socio-economic empowerment, say the Gawawis encampment dwellers. “Sometimes there’s no sun, no wind, but in general, thank God, the electricity works fine,” Abu ElAbed tells IPS. “It helps us economically. Women prepare more butter effortlessly with the electric butter churn. And we have a refrigerator, a washing machine, a TV.” Sixteen of the 24 installations operated by Comet are under threat of demolition. “You need a building permit. It makes sense. The problem is you have a bureaucratic mechanism whose purpose is to prevent people from obtaining permits,” says Orian. “And the people subjected to this bureaucracy aren’t Israeli citizens.” Fortunately, Comet enjoys German government support, both financial and political, and can afford to fight legal battles on behalf of the Palestinian communities. Abu ElAbed recalls that the army came to Gawawis two years ago with a demolition order, “but we haven’t heard from them since.” In Jinba, the local clinic, mosque and elementary school remain off the grid. Fields remain under Israeli rule. But the Palestinian flag atop the elementary school leaves no doubt as to whom the land belongs.

Leave a comment

CPT: Israeli military detains driver, confiscates vehicle donated for transport of schoolchildren in Firing Zone 918/Massafer Yatta

On 18 November 2013 at 11:00, Mufid Abu Qbeita—the driver for the students who live in the South Hebron Hills area that the Israeli military has designated as “Firing Zone 918”—was driving children back to their homes from Al Fakheit school.  Israeli Security Forces and representatives of the Israeli Civil Administration stopped him near Al-Sfai, one of the villages in the Firing Zone, while he had a child in the car. Soldiers took his ID and detained him for thirty minutes; afterwards, they told him to follow them to Gush Etzion Police Station.  Two soldiers accompanied Abu Qbeita in the car.  He had to leave the child in Al-Sfai.



Abu Qbeita informed the soldiers that the jeep belonged to the Palestinian Ministry of Education and was donated by Japan, but they still forced him to drive to the settlement of Gush Etzion.  After several hours, they released him, but the jeep remains at the police station.  When Abu Qbeita asked why the soldiers had confiscated the jeep, they answered, “Because you were driving in the firing zone of the South Hebron Hills which is not allowed.”

CPT, EAPPI and Operation Dove take turns accompanying Abu Qbeita and the SUV from the city of Yatta into the Firing Zone during the week, in order to prevent incidents like the above occurring, but until recently, once in the zone, he had not faced problems.  On 27 October, eight Israeli soldiers detained him, verbally abused him, and then beat him on his abdomen, face, and back.  Afterwards, they forced him drive to over spikes used to stop vehicles at army checkpoints to puncture the SUV’s tires.



Leave a comment

HAARETZ: Israel’s military advocate: IDF training inside Palestinian villages is legal

After NGO files complaint against Israeli military training inside West Bank villages, IDF’s Military Advocate General says legality of training is anchored in principles of ‘belligerent occupation.’

By Gili Cohen – Nov. 3, 2013

There is no legal barrier to Israel Defense Forces training inside Palestinian villages in the West Bank, according to a document prepared by the IDF’s Military Advocate General.

Maj. Harel Weinberg, the MAG’s deputy prosecutor for operational affairs, wrote that the legality of training inside Palestinian villages is anchored in the principles of “belligerent occupation,” by which the military commander, who is the sovereign authority in the area, is obligated to maintain security and public order in the West Bank, and so must hold occasional training exercises in populated areas.

Still, Weinberg wrote that troops taking part in such training were required to “avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine.” The document was written in response to a complaint filed by activists of the Yesh Din NGO following a series of incidents involving IDF training in villages.

In one incident last May, troops held an exercise in the middle of the village of Amatin. In another case three months ago, during Ramadan, the army held a training exercise at Tel Rumeida in Hebron while a family there was eating breakfast in their yard. According to a report by family members, about 15 soldiers broke into their yard without permission, scattered throughout both floors of the home, and practiced breaking into a home using special equipment — all while family members were inside.

The IDF Spokesman said: “After looking into the matter, the Military Advocate General found that there was no legal obstacle to holding training in inhabited areas as part of maintaining security in the area. The orders issued for the drills that take place in populated urban areas include a statute requiring coordination with the ones doing the drill. It will also be made clear that as part of the training exercises, the soldiers must avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine. Anywhere that there are deviations from these rules, the Military Advocate General will order that clarification be given and will take the appropriate measures.”