by Jasmine Moore and Kira Nygren
Area C encompasses 60% of the West Bank and is home to an estimated 180,000-300,000 Palestinians and a growing Israeli settler population, currently numbering at least 325,500 in 125 settlements and about 100 outposts.
Israel retains control of security and land-management in Area C, operating and viewing the area as there to serve its own needs, such as military training, economic interests and settlement development. This policy disregards Palestinian needs and is evident in the prohibition of Palestinian construction, frequent demolition of homes, roads and water cisterns, as well as violence by security forces. Perhaps most notably, there is a distinct lack of enforcement against settler violence – an act widely regarding globally as a violation of international human rights law.
Since the escalation of violence by Hamas on October 7th, the Israeli government has accelerated demolitions in Area C, and settler violence has dramatically increasing in intensity and frequency. Settlers have begun beating and using live fire against Palestinians, as well as activists; new checkpoints have completely isolated villages making it difficult for residents to leave; Palestinians are held up and questioned by soldiers sometimes for hours at a time; and dozens of unlicensed cars have been confiscated.
Whilst several initiatives have been implemented in an effort to assist Palestinians and their communities in their struggles to remain in Area C, they largely lack long-term sufficiency and fail to condemn and sanction human rights violations by Israel. In order to offer a viable future for Palestinians, Palestinian statehood in Area C, or to keep alive the two-state solution alive, a different approach to spatial planning in Area C is urgently required.
Hence, through our project, we would like to re-shift public attention towards human rights violations currently happening in Area C, creating resources and events that put to centre stage the extent to which the current lived realities of West Bank citizens indicate poor foundations for a two-state solution in the near future. In March we hope to welcome to the UK the Masafer Yatta’s Mayor, accompanied by a Palestinian journalist. On their week’s visit we have organised for them to host a number of conferences and talks with British diplomats, MPs, as well as the general public, to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle in Area C, specifically in relation to increasing settler violence.