HEBRON, April 3, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli occupation forces Sunday chased down Palestinian shepherds in Masafer Yatta area in southern Hebron, and seized around 120 sheep, according to a local activist.
Coordinator of the national committee against the separation wall and settlements, Rateb al-Jabour, informed WAFA, two local brothers identified as Jehad and Ismail Mor were chased down by forces in Masafer Yatta grazing fields, which Israeli occupation authorities have declared a military training zone.
Meanwhile, armed Israeli settlers late Saturday night chased down a Palestinian youth while he was present in the said area. The youth was identified as Na’el Abu ‘Eram, 25.
The activist noted that Israeli forces and settlers, who reside in illegal West Bank Israeli settlements, have intensified their arbitrary measures against Palestinians, including shepherds, in Masafer Yatta, in an aim to force them to leave their land, an area of 50 thousand dunums, as a prelude to seize it for the benefit of settlement expansion, under the pretext of being located in ‘state land’ and ‘closed military zones’.
Palestinians in this area face a continuous risk of forcible expulsion.
Like many other Palestinian communities located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military and administrative control, Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta are particularly vulnerable and food insecure.
“They rely on livestock, mostly sheep and goats, as their primary source of income. Some families are unable to support their livestock since access to grazing areas is restricted due to the threat of settler violence or by the Israeli military, and thus have reduced income with which to meet their own needs, increasing their levels of poverty. All of the communities located in the Firing Zone are dependent upon food assistance from humanitarian organizations,” said the United Nations OCHA.
According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights and information center, “As of January 2016 Israeli authorities have stepped up efforts to expel Palestinian communities from vast areas in the West Bank, with a focus on the South Hebron Hills, the area around the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, and the Jordan Valley.”
“As part of these efforts, as of January 2016 and through 11 February, authorities have demolished 73 dwellings and 51 other structures, leaving 284 people, including 161 minors, without shelter.”
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.