Heads of Mission of the European Union and likeminded countries visit Khallet a-Dabe’ and a-Tuwani in Masafer Yatta

Heads of Mission and representatives from the EU and likeminded countries visited local communities of Masafer Yatta. The visit comes after increasing pressure on communities to leave and increased military presence and training in the area.

 

The visit was jointly organised by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, the Palestinian NGO Youth of Sumud as well as the Alliance for Human Rights. The West Bank Protection Consortium also joined the visit. Diplomats were briefed about the humanitarian situation in Masafer Yatta, following the Israeli Supreme Court ruling on 4 May, permitting the Israeli army to evict the residents. They were informed about the pressure on the communities to leave their homes and the planned mass destruction of Palestinian structures in the area, as well as the associated risk of mass eviction and forced transfer of residents. Additionally, they were updated on the broader issue of increasing settler violence in the West Bank and on the settler attacks that recently occurred in Masafer Yatta. As of September 2022, around the West Bank more than 400 settler attacks leading to injury and / or property damage have been recorded.

The diplomats visited the village of Khallet a-Dabe, where 35 structures are under imminent threat of demolition and more than 80 residents are at risk of being displaced. They also visited A-Tuwani, a site whose residents suffer from intense repression by Israeli military and settlers, where they learned about the case of Hafez Hureini – a Palestinian Human Rights Defender recently attacked by settlers on his private land.

‘Today, I could observe that the humanitarian situation in Masafer Yatta has deteriorated since my last visit in July. I am very concerned about the increased military presence and operations, demolition and military seizure orders as well as settler violence, including in the villages of Khallet Athaba and A-Tuwani’. I call on the Israeli authorities to immediately cease these actions, and to protect the Palestinian residents from settler violence, according to its obligations as an occupying power’, said the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.

As stated in numerous EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, settlement expansions, demolitions and evictions are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and seriously jeopardise the two-state solution. The EU reiterates its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as demolitions and confiscation, evictions, forced transfers, illegal outposts and restrictions of movement and access.

As an occupying power and as a state party to numerous international human rights treaties, Israel is restricted to acting only as the temporary administrator of the Palestinian territory. The planned mass destruction of Palestinian structures as well as the associated forcible mass transfer of residents, would constitute serious violations of international law. Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that: “The Occupying Power shall not … transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”