Army razes homes, pens in southern West Bank hamlets

The Israeli military has demolished homes, water tanks and olive orchards in the Palestinian villages of Ma’in and Shaab al-Butum in the southern West Bank, residents and activists say.

According to images shared by local residents and activists, armored vehicles escorted construction equipment to the demolitions Tuesday.

Shaab al-Butum sits inside an arid area of the West Bank known as Masafer Yatta, which the Israeli military has designated as a live-fire training zone. Some 1,000 residents of the eight hamlets that make up Masafer Yatta are slated for expulsion, an order Israel’s Supreme Court upheld in May after a two-decade legal battle.

A Palestinian man walks inside his house in the West Bank Bedouin community of Jinba, Masafer Yatta, Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

Ma’in sits just outside the firing zone, some two kilometers (1.2 miles) from Shaab al-Butum.

Guy Butavia, an activist with the Israeli rights group Taayush, says the army razed five homes, animal pens and cisterns, spilling the contents of people’s lives out onto the cold desert.

Most residents of the area have remained in place since the ruling, even as Israeli security forces periodically roll in to demolish structures. But they could be forced out at any time.

Local officials and rights groups said Israeli defense officials have informed them that they would soon forcibly remove more than 1,000 residents from the area.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body that deals with Palestinian civilian affairs, declined to comment.

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