Life in the Firing Zone
Life goes on as usual in al Mufaqarah under the constant threat of demolition, expulsion and expropriation from the Israeli government.
This is one of twelve villages located in the arid South Hebron Hills, declared a military zone in the 1970’s. Their grazing lands came under the 3000 hectares that Israel called ‘Firing Zone 918’ and the IDF confiscated for military training. Evictions started in 1999 after their homes were declared illegal although generations of Palestinians lived there before the Israeli occupation of 1967. Today the return to their ancestors cave dwellings are the only way to avoid demolition, for now.
Around 1000 residents have been fighting a lengthy and costly battle in court to defend their right to remain in their communities.
Al Mufaqarah also falls in Area C, as does 60% of the West Bank, under full Israeli military and civilian control. Although Israel´s High Court exempted the village from eviction in 2012, Palestinians here can’t build any permanent structure in their own lands and properties without Israeli permission, which is never granted. Even water pipes or tents built with international funds are crushed to the ground regardless of the damage caused to people’s livelihoods. In contrast, the illegal Israeli outpost of Avigayl across the hill is connected to the electric grid and has running water.
The intended total evacuation of these villages is not an isolated case. The relentless violation of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank is proving successful for Israel’s policy of expansion in the occupied territories. According to the civil rights organization B’Tselem 30% of Area C is defined as ‘live fire zones’, and used to displace locals inhabitants, almost double the amount of land that the Palestinian Authority fully controls, which is around 18%.