World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli soldiers evicted several hundred Bedouins from a village in the occupied West Bank on Monday after the army declared the area a live-fire training zone.
The residents of Wadi al-Maleh, a village mostly inhabited by shepherds in the arid area bordering Jordan, had almost all left their homes by an evening curfew and retreated to neighbouring villages, Aref Daraghmeh, a local leader, told Reuters.
The displacement coincided with several demolitions of Arab properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which come as the United States is trying to revive stalled peace.
In January, villagers received a similar eviction order and left without resisting, only to return after 48 hours. Almost all of their 90 buildings, including shelters for their animals, were demolished in 2010, local rights groups said.
Israeli soldiers prevented outsiders, including journalists, from entering the area, saying it was a "closed military zone".
"This drill is a part of the IDF's pre-planned yearly exercise schedule," the spokesperson said.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5,000 Palestinians in 38 herding communities live on army firing zones, along with several sprawling Jewish settlements and farms.
Besides al-Maleh, 12 Bedouin villages throughout the length of the Jordan Valley have received eviction orders since 1999, according to the Association for Human Rights in Israel.
The International Court of Justice and most governments deem Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal.
Israeli authorities razed two family homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of al-Tur on Monday morning, displacing 18 Palestinians who were not granted the elusive building permits, local officials said.
The army also demolished a well near a Palestinian refugee camp south of the city of Hebron and cleared an agricultural area of dozens of olive trees east of Bethlehem, according to Palestinian government media.
Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on those incidents.Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2013, 14:57