Continuation of Save Masafer Yatta campaign

by Ross Plowman, Dina Gitlin-Leigh and Alaa Krayem

Masafer Yatta is an area in the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank, home to around 1300 Palestinians living in 12 villages.

Under Israeli occupation since 1967, Masafer Yatta was declared a ‘Firing Zone’ for military training in the early 1980s. This designation creates a pretext for Masafer Yatta’s demolition, and its residents have lived under the threat of expulsion ever since.

The threat to Masafer Yatta has intensified in recent years, and a recent Israeli Supreme Court hearing will go some way to determining its future. However, even if the Courts do not permit its demolition, Masafer Yatta will not be safe from annexation and dispossession.

While there has been sustained pressure around Masafer Yatta from Palestinian and Israeli activists, as of yet the international community has not paid much attention to the issue. As the protests over the planned evictions in Sheikh Jarrah last summer showed, international pressure can have a real impact on the actions of the Israeli Government. Our aim is to initiate a UK wide reaction to the ongoing demolition and violence in Masafer Yatta to place pressure on the Israeli Government to halt the demolitions.

Following up on last year’s advocacy project which reached 10,000 letters to MPs on this issue, this year we hope to bring the mayor of Masafer Yatta, Nidal Younes, to the UK to meet and speak with political stakeholders to provide first hand experiences of the difficulties being faced by members of his community. Discussions on the situation of Masafer Yatta and what could be done from the UK to prevent future displacements will take place in parliament, think tanks and university campuses.