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Israeli army raid four Palestinian villages inside firing area 918, South Hebron hills

3rd November 2012 | Operation Dove, West Bank

By Operation Dove www.operationdove.org


On the 1st of November Israeli soldiers irrupted in Al-Fakheit, Al-Majaz, At-Tabban and Al-Mirkez, villages of the ‘Firing Area’ 918 in the West Bank. The soldiers surrounded the villages, and internationals’ phones started to ring continuously. One by one the first news from the Palestinians arrived to the internationals and pushed them to move quickly toward the area.
All the roads to reach them were closed by military jeeps and DCO (District Coordination Office, the section of the Israeli military that works for the civil administration in the Occupied Palestinian Territories), as was seen. They called some frightened inhabitants from the villages who told them what happened. The only way to reach the area was to arrive in Jinba and to check from a distance. A lot of military jeeps were also seen moving among the hills.
According to testimonies of Al-Fakheit, Al-Majaz and At-Tabban, collected on the field, around 7:00 pm in every village almost 30 soldiers got off helicopters, pushed the people out from their houses, even children and babies inside the cradles. The soldiers took pictures of each family and each building. They checked also the IDs. The Israeli army gave them a document which accuses the local inhabitants to help illegal workers who travel toward Israel, drugs and arms dealers. They asked a lot of questions about the number of the people in each village, their names, who the owners of cars and tractors are. They also checked in their houses and tents, looking for something. In every village the inhabitants witnessed how the children were scared by the Army behaviour. During the raid, Israeli soldiers threatened the Palestinian inhabitants, urging them to leave their land and ordering them to “shut up” when the Palestinians tried to ask the reason of the night raid.
A woman of Al-Fakheit said that the soldiers surrounded all the houses scaring children and women. At the moment the majority of the men were working in Yatta, the nearby Palestinian city situated in area A. Soldiers asked a Palestinian to show his ID, but he had it in another tent, when he offered to get it the soldiers forbade it to him. While his wife was going to take their ID’s, a soldier drew his weapon on her.
The Palestinian villages of A-Tabban, Al- Majaz, Al-Fakheit and Al-Mirkez are located a few kilometres away from the Green Line. Since the 1970’s a large portion of the area around the villages is used by the Israeli army for military training and it is called ‘Firing Area 918’. On November 1999 all the villages in the area were evacuated and the people deported north past the bypass road 317. They obtained the right to return back to their homes but since then they have continued to receive military aggression and harrassment.
Since 22nd July 2012, after several delays, the State Attorney submitted a response to the Court, based on a position formulated by the Minister of Defense, according to which “permanent residence will be prohibited” in most of the area declared as a firing zone. The result of this decision will be the evacuation of 8 villages and the expulsion of almost 1500 people from their homes. On the 8th of August the High Court of Justice allowed the Palestinian inhabitants to keep on living in this area until the 1st of November, then postponed on the 16th of December.
Some cases of military activities were registered this year in the villages inside the ‘Firing Area’: on January 20th 2012, two children of 11 and 13 years old, were injured by an unexploded device, while they were grazing their flocks on Palestinian land near Jinba.
On August 7th, 2012 at 10:00 am a group of 70 Israeli soldiers raided the Palestinian village of Jinba. The Israeli army reached the place by logistical support of two military helicopters and 6 military vehicles. The battalion entered in Jinba village and threatened the Palestinian inhabitants for one hour and half ransacked their homes, that were found damaged.
On the morning of September 16th, around 8:00 am nearby the Palestinian village of Majaz, a 38 years old man was attacked and injured while travelling on his car. According to Palestinian witnesses, 4 soldiers stopped him on the road and started to beat him and to damage his vehicle. The soldiers detained him for one hour near their hummer.

On the 30th of September two Palestinian shepherds from Halaweh village were detained and threatened by the Israeli army while grazing their flock in the area of Massafer Yatta, West Bank.
The two shepherds claimed that soldiers beat one of them, sequestered their mobile-phones and pushed them away from their own land maintaining to be a military zone. Moreover the soldiers ordered to the Palestinians not to come back there, threatening that otherwise they would have killed all the flock.

The Israeli Army keeps persecuting its isolation policy aimed to restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement in that area.

Nevertheless the Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills are strongly involved in affirming their rights and resisting to the Israeli occupation choosing a nonviolent way.

Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the villages: http://snipurl.com/25hogy8