EU decries Israel eviction of over 1,000 Palestinians to make way for military zone

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The European Union on Tuesday condemned a ruling from an Israeli court approving the eviction of over 1,000 Palestinians to make way for a military training zone.

“The Israeli Supreme Court issued last week (May 4) a decision on the Masafer Yatta eviction case in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank, increasing the risk of the forced transfer of some 1,200 Palestinians and the demolition of their homes,” a spokesperson for the bloc said in a statement.

“Settlement expansion, demolitions and evictions are illegal under international law. The EU condemns such possible plans and urges Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian and international human rights law.”

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The statement said that “the establishment of a firing zone cannot be considered an ‘imperative military reason’ to transfer the population under occupation.”

The case of Masafer Yatta – or Firing Zone 918 – an agriculture area near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, has been one of Israel’s longest running legal battles.

Residents of eight villages had been in court for around 20 years fighting Israeli government efforts to evict them.

In the early 1980s the army declared the 3,000-hectare (30 square kilometer) territory a restricted military area and claimed it was uninhabited.

The roughly 1,000 Palestinians living there said it was their people’s home long before Israeli soldiers set foot in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

It captured the territory from Jordan in the Six-Day War and the West bank is now home to more than 475,000 settlers – Jewish Israelis living in communities widely regarded as illegal under international law.

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