Jerusalem24 – For more than four decades, the residents of Masafer Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank have faced violence, harassment, expulsion, and the threat of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Israeli military, settlers, and state.
“The high court gave the green light for the army in a final decision which was last May that the army can now displace the residents again under the pretext that this is a military area or a firing zone.” Basel Al-Adra, a local journalist and activist, tells Jerusalem24.
Armed Israeli settlers are storming houses under the protection of the Israeli army on daily basis, destroying Palestinian crops and agricultural lands, the assaults and attacks by the Israeli settlers or the army are everywhere in the West Bank, including different Bedouin communities and villages and are also “expanding massively”, Basel describes the situation as “crazy” in Masafer Yatta “[Israeli] settlers are building everywhere here in Masafer Yatta – they are taking more lands.”
In recent months people have witnessed several activities and volunteer work that took place in Masafer Yatta, Palestinian activist from the area and from several towns in the occupied West Bank have been participating more in these activities, posting pictures and videos online on different social media platforms.
Basel asserts on the important of volunteer work for the residents of Masafer Yatta “Volunteer work is mainly for the people of Masafer Yatta to feel that they are not alone.” through planting trees, conduct various activities for children, or just to experience the daily life of the people in Masafer Yatta for a couple of hours.
“It’s a massage for the occupation that the people of Masafer Yatta are not alone here.” He also adds.
In recent weeks the Israeli army started to impose a new policy of confiscating all vehicles in Masafer Yatta. According to Basel, the Israeli army have confiscated dozens of Palestinian owned-vehicles in the last 10 days, under the pretext that it is a firing zone and people are not allowed to drive there, “but we always see settler cars moving inside this area and between the villages,” Basel Adds.
For the residents of Masafer Yatta its “a very big challenge” to move from one village to another or to the city center where most people get their basic daily needs, buying food or to transfer water and their goods, “they are not able to move now, they are basically in a prison.” Basel says.
A couple of days ago in Masafer Yatta a 5-year-old girl was stung by a deadly scorpion , her family vehicle was confiscated along with dozens of other vehicles, and the only possible way for her family to transfer her to a medical clinic was by a donkey, which took them hours after the ambulance arrived and then transferred them to a clinic.
Basel believe that these kinds of policies are a way to put pressure on the residents of Masafer Yatta to leave their land by preventing water, electricity, demolishing homes and schools, to cast them away from their homes exactly like what happened in Ein Samiya, and this is “how they want to ethnic cleanse us,” – “people are really worried.” He adds.
The policy of demolishing schools by the Israeli army is nothing new to the children of Masafer Yatta who are continuing their education in tents and caravans and in very bad conditions, and now, after the army is confiscating the resident vehicles, school children have to walk from a village to another in order to reach their school.
“Today, 5 school under final decision of demolition and there is already one school that was destroyed last November by the Israeli forces.”
Basel also explained how important to report the attacks, aggression, harassment and displacement done at the hands of the Israeli army and settlers in Masafer Yatta, and not to be only reported by the residents of Masafer Yatta but also by people from across the country to talk and write about Masafer Yatta so people start to know about the situation.
“We hope that everyone to stand for this cause, a lot of Palestinians lost their houses and their community because of the Settlers and army violence”— Basel also adds that, “people outside should take part of sharing our story and write about it and call for their governments to put pressure on Israel to stop everything they are doing in Masafer Yatta.”
For Basel, Filming and documenting what’s happening in Masafer Yatta on daily basis and present it to the world to see the truth is a way of resilience, “And that’s why I’m doing this – so people would know and see the truth with their own eyes.” He finishes.
Listen to the full Interview on VIBES.