The United Nations and European Union today stressed the need to provide Palestinian residents and schoolchildren in the southern Hebron hills with secure and dignified living.
Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Sarah Muscroft, and UNICEF Special Representative to Palestine, Lucia Elmi, besides to a host of international diplomats made this call during a visit to Khirbet Umm Qassa of the Bedouin community of Azwadeen and al-Fakhit communities.
The diplomats made their way to the Challenge and Steadfastness School No. 20 the Co-ed Secondary Masafer School, where they listened to first-hand accounts of the harsh conditions experienced by the Palestinian communities due to the Israeli occupation measures aimed at their forceful displacement.
They also called for ensuring that school children have safe and unhindered access to schools in the collection of hamlets that make up the Masafer Yatta area.
Mayor of Yatta, Issa Smeirat and the Assistant Under-Secretary for Education Thrwat Zeid among other officials highlighted the suffering of the Palestinian communities in the southern Hebron hills, including obstructing students’ access to children and the threat of demolishing tents, water wells and structures as part of the plan to ethnically cleanse them to make room for the construction of Israeli colonial settlements.
They called for following up the case of the Palestinian communities threatened with forceful displacement before international courts as well as for improving the services provided to Masafer Yatta communities, including the construction of schoolrooms and clinics.
Masafer Yatta is a collection of almost 19 hamlets which rely heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood.
Located in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli administrative and military control, the area has been subjected to repeated Israeli violations by settlers and soldiers targeting their main source of living – livestock.
It has been designated as a closed Israeli military zone for training since 1980s and accordingly referred to as Firing Zone 918.
Israeli violations against the area include demolition of animal barns, homes and residential structures. Issuance of construction permits by Israel to local Palestinians in the area is non-existent.