World Bulletin / News Desk
An Israeli plan to displace 12 shepherd communities in the occupied West Bank to make way for army training zones was condemned by the Palestinian Authority premier on Wednesday as a move to depopulate Palestinian areas.
Israel has designated the area south of the city of Hebron as a closed military zone and asked for Supreme Court approval to move the residents to the nearby village of Yatta.
But villagers say Israel wants to eject them from the area in order to clear a path for the expansion of nearby Jewish settlements. No date has been set yet for a ruling by the high court, according to rights activists.
"This measure is aimed at evacuating the Palestinians from their land," PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said while visiting a partially demolished mosque in one of the communities. "There is no other explanation."
Fayyad visited the community of Al-Mufaqara, one of 12 where some 1,500 people live on 3,035 hectares of land.
"We are one kilometer away from one settlement, and 700 metres from a (settler) outpost - why aren't they being evacuated?" said resident Mahmoud Hamamdeh, dressed in flowing traditional dress and headgarb.
"We got our first demolition order right after the settlements were built in 1985," he says.
The United Nations' International Court of Justice and most governments rule Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal.
"Not Israeli land"
The hamlets of Al-Mufaqara, Tuba, Majaz, Tabban, Sfaye, Fakhit, Halawa, Al Marqaz, Jinba, Kharuba, Megheir al-Abeid and Sarura have been under threat of demolition since 1999, according to the Association for Human Rights in Israel.
An evacuation was halted in 2000 by a court decision after 700 people had already been evicted.
Fayyad, seated in a rough tent surrounded by village residents, said that Israeli settlement expansion and forced evictions of Palestinians had undermined the viability of reaching a peaceful solution with Israel and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
"As a matter of principle, this is not Israeli land. If they want to practice military training, they should go elsewhere."
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says some 38 communities with 5,000 Palestinians, mostly Bedouin and pastoral communities in the West Bank, reside in areas designated as "firing zones" - which comprise approximately 18 percent of the West Bank.
Palestinian residents of firing zones are routinely subject to demolition orders. Almost half of all demolitions since 2010 have occurred in these areas, displacing over 820 Palestinians so far, according to OCHA.
In May, EU foreign ministers criticized what they said were worsening conditions for Palestinians living in Area C -- the 60 percent of the West Bank which is under full Israeli occupation and where most Jewish settlements are located.
An EU mission also visited Al-Mufaqara on Wednesday and issued a statement later protesting at what it called a planned "forced transfer of ... people contrary to Israel's obligations as the Occupying Power".
It added: "The designation of the area as a live firing zone would thus reduce further the opportunities for Palestinian communities to live and work in Area C and ... any potential of economic and social development for the Palestinians in this area of the occupied Palestinian territory".
ISIL seized large areas of Deir al-Zor's industrial region, meaning it now controls more than half the city
Haroon Aswat, 40, a British citizen of Indian descent, is wanted in the United States for allegedly conspiring to establish a militant training camp
Leung Chun-ying was talking just hours before the start of formal talks between student protest leaders and city officials aimed at defusing the crisis
22 people, including attackers, killed in a market place by 4 armed men in East Turkestan
Hamas denounced what he described as "blackmail" by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who recently said reconstruction of the war-battered strip would be halted if Hamas began repairing cross-border tunnels
Ibrahim Ghandour, vice president of the National Congress Party, told Reuters Bashir had been chosen by the party's decision-making council out of five candidates
Israeli forces fired dozens of teargas canisters at Palestinians demonstrating outside Israel's Ofer Prison in Ramallah
Canadian media, citing police, identified the driver as Martin Couture-Rouleau, a resident of the town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal.
The maritime portion of "Keen Sword" will be held east of Japan's major southern island of Kyushu, but not in the East China Sea, which lies to the other side of the island
The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, who was convicted of culpable homicide last month for shooting Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, was escorted by armed police into court
Egyptian President said pardons for journalists currently in police custody could only be granted after the latter received final court verdicts.
Flights cancelled at Heathrow and trucks overturned as severe weather warning issued
The death of 83-year-old Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, reported by Iranian media, is unlikely to spark any direct policy change or jockeying for power
Poland will ask to re-consider the ruling that Poland violated its human rights commitments by hosting a secret CIA jail on its soil
The Al-Fath Mosque was closed on August 17 of last year following the eviction of dozens of pro-Morsi activists and reporters who had been holed up inside
The two countries signed a MoU during a recent visit to Uganda by Iranian Police Chief Brig. Gen. Ismaeil Ahamdi Moghadam