Israel issues mosque demolition order in Hebron

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The Israeli occupation authorities today posted a demolition order for a mosque in the south Hebron Hills area, Wafa has reported.

According to Rateb Jabour of the Wall and Settlements Resistance Committees in Masafer Yatta, Palestinians living in the neighbourhood of Khashm Al-Daraj have to demolish the mosque but have two weeks to object to the order. The mosque, he added, serves several communities in Masafer Yatta and the South Hebron Hills.

The demolition order comes amid concerns that the new far-right Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, which includes racist figures known for their animosity towards Palestinians, could push for more demolitions of Palestinian homes and infrastructure in the Occupied West Bank, especially in Masafer Yatta.

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On 4 May last year, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that there were no legal barriers to the planned expulsion of Palestinian residents from Masafer Yatta to make way for a military training area. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said then that the ruling “effectively placed the residents at imminent risk of forced evictions, arbitrary displacement and forcible transfer.”

According to UNOCHA, in the 1980s the Israeli occupation authorities designated part of Masafer Yatta as “Firing Zone 918” and declared it a closed military zone. Since this declaration, indigenous Palestinian residents have indeed been at risk of forced eviction, demolition and forcible transfer. The two villages of Khirbet Sarura and Kharoubeh no longer exist because they were demolished.

“Approximately 20 per cent of the West Bank has been designated as ‘Firing Zones’, affecting over 5,000 Palestinians from 38 communities,” explained UNOCHA. “Currently, Masafer Yatta is home to 215 Palestinian households of around 1,150 people, of whom 569 are children.”

In an effort to force Palestinians out of the area, the occupation authorities have deprived residents of access to basic amenities, including drainage, and refused permission to build new homes to meet the needs of the growing population.

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