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The Ghost of the Nakba Looms Over Yatta

Jerusalem24 – Last Thursday, as the world was focused on the killing of Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Israeli forces stormed the communities south of Hebron in Masafer Yatta, demolishing several homes.

The demolitions are implementing a court order made two weeks ago, a decision that Israeli lawyer and human rights activist Michael Sfard said was “an embarrassing legal error”.

The ruling, which was quietly published on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, declared that the prohibition of forced transfer set in international law is non-binding in a domestic court – a claim that Sfard disputed both on Twitter and in an interview with Jerusalem24.

Nevertheless, the Palestinian residents’ proceedings have ended after 23 years of living in a declared “firing zone.”

As the demolitions continue, a young Palestinian journalist who has been documenting the events in these communities for years, Basel Al-Adra, provides live updates via Twitter. “Our families have been living here for generations and decades before the occupation declared it a firing zone,” says Basel . He adds that “their goal is to expel us from our land and to expand the settlement on it.”

Since the court ruling, Israeli authorities have intensified the demolitions in the area. According to Basel , around 20 structures were torn down on Thursday. Basel says “with the court ruling we’re expecting more demolitions.”

“Now also they can evacuate people to demolish their structures and carry them out physically from the land,” he continued.

Around 2800 people are threatened with forced displacement in the Masafer Yatta communities, with the court ruling not offering any alternatives to the Palestinians in the communities.

In spite of all this, the Palestinians in the region are refusing to be removed so easily.

Last Friday, the communities called for a mass protest against the court ruling and the demolitions of Palestinian homes. However on the day of the protest the Israeli police set up checkpoints around the communities, preventing buses and cars coming in from Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. “About 400 people were not available to come to Masafer Yatta because of the checkpoints,” said Al-Adra.

As Palestinians commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, when 800 thousand Palestinians were removed from their homes and communities, the people of Masafer Yatta hold on to a singular position best explained by Basel Al-Adra:

“We will always be steadfast, we’re going to stay on our land, we’ll remain here. The only way to get us out of here is to put us in the ground, in the grave. All the people of Masafer Yatta that’s what they are saying.”

In this episode of Wake-Palestine, Basel Al-Adra speaks about the challenges the communities of Masafer Yatta are facing as Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes in the area.



Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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