Following Ehud Barak recent announcement on the evacuation of eight villages in the Masafer Yatta, today the Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad visited al Mufaqarah and al Fakhit.

According to the Israeli plan announced on the 23rd of July,eight of the twelve villages of the so proclaimed Firing Zone area 918 -al Majaz, a-Tabban, a-Sfay, al-Fakhit, al-Halaweh, al-Mirkez, Jinba, and al- Kharuba- will be evacuated, while the other four – al-Mufaqarah, at-Tuba, Maghayir al-Abeed and as-Sarura – will be spared. The eviction’s cause is that the land is needed for military training.

In the case the eight hamlets are displaced, around 1500 persons will be left homeless and moved to the close city of Yatta. Also the fate of the four spared hamlets, systematically targeted with demolition orders and exposed to settlers’ attacks, will be already determined, as they will find themselves isolated and cut off from the vital center of Yatta.

According to Barak’s declaration, the villagers will be allowed to access their land for farming on weekends and Jewish holidays, and during two one-month periods each year, when the Israeli army is not training in the area.

During his visit, Fayyad condemned the decision, saying that this measure is aimed at evacuating the Palestinians from their land. “As a matter of principle, this is not Israeli land. If they want to practice military training, they should go elsewhere”.

He also stressed the illegal presence of the surroundings settlements and outposts, which are not targeted with any evacuation orders but, on the contrary, continue to expand and flourish.

The settlements issue, along with the forced eviction of Palestinians from the so called area C, closed nearly all avenues for the advancement of the peace process and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

According to Ocha, the area designated as Firing zone amount to approximately the 18% of the West Bank. 38 Palestinian communities are living in these territories, with a population of 5,000 people, while 10 Jewish settlement outposts are partly or completely located in the same area[1].

While the villagers of Masafer Yatta wait for the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice to decide on their future, the IDF started to terrorize the inhabitants of the area. Yesterday, 70 masked and armed soldiers supported by two helicopters and six jeeps raided the village of Jinba, one of the hamlets under threat of eviction. The Israeli army caused property damages while making extensive searches whose aim was to photograph and map the structures of the village.

They also erected a command center outside the village and they parked several vehicles in the same area.

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