After a decades-long legal battle that began in the 1980s, Israel’s Supreme Court has approved the eviction of more than 1,000 Palestinians from eight villages in the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank. The region of the West Bank, which the Israeli army refers to as “firing zone 918,” is home to 12 Palestinian villages, and has existed in a perpetual state of legal limbo since it was declared a military zone in 1981. The State claims that the inhabitants who settled there were nomads while the communities maintain they have lived there, shepherding and cultivating on private land, since the 19th century.

On Wednesday, May 4th, the court dismissed two petitions that NIFC project partner Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) brought on behalf of the residents.

In a statement, ACRI said, “Under cover of darkness and without issuing any prior warning, the court handed down a ruling which is exceptional and most severe in its consequences and which legitimizes the eviction of about one thousand Palestinian women, men, children and elderly from the Masafer Yatta region in the South Hebron Hills. This comes after a 22-year legal campaign against an eviction order issued by the army. At the start of the 1980s, the army declared the homes and private land in the South Hebron Hills a firing zone for military training, and at the start of the 2000s, they issued an eviction order. Now the Supreme Court has approved leaving complete families with children and elderly without a roof over their heads.”

ACRI has vowed to keep fighting. They will petition for an additional court hearing that will include a larger panel of judges than just the three that issued the recent court ruling.

Listen to NIF’s Emergency Briefing on Masafer Yatta to learn more