International officials: Massafer Yatta Palestinians should be allowed to stay in their homes with dignity

Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator a.i., Samer Abdel Jaber, visited the Massafer Yatta area of the southern West Bank, to meet with Palestinian residents at risk of forcible transfer. Along with colleagues from the United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), he briefed senior diplomats who joined the visit.

“Following the recent court ruling on Massafer Yatta, I call upon the Israeli government to allow residents to remain here with dignity,” Mr. Abdel Jaber stated. “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.”

The visit to Massafer Yatta, was attended by officials from five UN Agencies and eleven NGOs, as well as by diplomats representing 24 countries, including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

“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 Massafer 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. This could amount to forcible transfer, a grave breach of international humanitarian law and, thus a war crime.