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Masafer Yatta evictions could constitute war crime, says UN

Jerusalem24– A delegation of international officials visited on Monday several Masafer Yatta communities threatened with forcible transfer.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinated the visit, which included officials from five different UN agencies and 11 NGOs, as well as diplomatic representatives from 24 countries.

OCHA Humanitarian Coordinator Samer Abdel Jaber said in a press release, “Following the recent court ruling on Massafer Yatta, I call upon the Israeli government to allow residents to remain here with dignity. Living here in safety is what residents wish for, as some of them told us today. We, the international community represented here, are committed to support them.”

“As the occupying power, the Israeli authorities’ responsibility is to protect Palestinian civilians,” Abdel Jaber stressed. “Forcing thirteen communities out to make room for military trainings is contradictory to that imperative, and simply inhumane and illegal.”

On 4 May the Israeli High Court of Justice approved the eviction of Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta to make room for Israeli military trainings. About 1,200 people, including 580 children, are now at imminent risk of forced eviction and displacement. They stand to lose their homes, belongings, access to water, livelihoods, primary health facilities and schools.

The OCHA press release concluded, “This could amount to forcible transfer, a grave breach of international humanitarian law and, thus a war crime.”

UN and diplomatic representatives sit with members of the threatened communities in Masafer Yatta on Monday 16 May 2022. [Source: British Consulate in Jerusalem/Facebook]

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