Report: Israel May Be Planning ‘Forced Transfer’ of Residents from 2 Palestinian Villages

[ Ed. note – The email below was sent out yesterday by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Apparently the Israeli government authorities are planning to completely eradicate two Palestinian villages and forcibly transfer the population. To where is not clear. But B’Tselem is calling it an “extreme escalation,” and judging from the tone of the email there are concerns that what’s apparently in the works now may just be a precursor to an ethnic cleansing operation on a far wider scale. ]

Dear friend,

According to Haaretz, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told journalists in late August that plans for the implementation of a measure virtually unheard of since 1967 were months away from completion. These are plans for the eviction: Eviction and demolition of two whole West Bank Palestinian villages. Together, the two villages, Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills, and Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, are home to hundreds of people, about half of them minors.

Demolishing these communities would constitute the forcible transfer of protected persons, a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. A forcible transfer occurs whenever residents do not leave of their own free will – for instance, when the authorities make living conditions impossible. This is exactly what Israel has been doing to these and to many other Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank for years –  forcing residents to live without connections to electricity or running water and under the constant threat of demolition. Still, demolishing an entire community would be an extreme escalation of this already abusive policy.

Crimes are usually committed far from the public view, and effort is put into covering them up. Seasoned politicians do not usually declare their criminal intentions, especially in on-the-record conversation with journalists. The fact that Minister Lieberman did so attests to his confidence that the planned evictions will receive the full backing similar actions – albeit less extreme – have always been given here, including the disgraceful support of the High Court. This is an official policy and is not seen as a crime.

For that reason, last week we sent a letter to the prime minister, the defense minister, the justice minister, the chief of staff and the head of the Civil Administration cautioning that demolishing an entire community would constitute a war crime for which they would bear personal liability. This was an unusual step for B’Tselem to take: we do not use the term lightly and it rarely appears in our publications. Yet the extreme circumstances demand it.

For many years, B’Tselem has been advocating for the Palestinian communities that are struggling against Israel’s de facto expulsion policy in Area C. We are determined to do everything in our power to help the residents of Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar escape expulsion, and ensure Israel avoids committing a war crime.

Sincerely yours,

Hagai El-Ad
Executive Director
B’Tselem

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