On May 15 2014, the mediation process between the Israeli army and the villages within Firing Zone 918 was extended for another three months. The Israeli army wants to use the area where currently eight Palestinian villages lie for military training. The IDF’s bid to expel the villagers is largely acknowledged as a clear violation of International Law, which condemns forced transfer of the indigenous population of an occupied territory in any other way than safeguarding them against an immediate danger.
During the previous period of mediation, rehabilitation of damage done by the storms was allowed, as well as, access by international humanitarian organizations. As a result, some development was made possible in the area, specifically to the schools of the villages Fakheit and Jinba. At the same time, as revealed in an article published on Haaretz, army officials admitted using firing zones as a way to deter the growth of Palestinian communities in Area C and to expel many of them from where they have lived since before the occupation of the West Bank in 1967.
Since June 8th, military exercises are being conducted by the Israeli army on a close proximity to, and in one occasion, inside the village of Jinba. Some weeks before, the army drove armored vehicles over Palestinian fields close to Jinba and Mirkez, damaging their harvest.
Residents of Jinba told CPT that they received a proposal for the current legal battle from the Israeli army that came through their lawyers at the beginning of June. The proposal was the army would have the entire area free of any of its Palestinians residents for thirty months for military exercises. After that, the Palestinians would be allowed back to their homes. The villagers refused the offer, affirming they wouldn’t have anywhere neither to go with all their livestock, neither to come back to if they left the area, which concretely means the army just wants an opportunity to expel them. Even if they were to be allowed back, no one would care for their crops and flocks for that thirty months. Palestinians in the area realized a long time ago that the army has no good intentions for them and only want the entire Massafer Yatta area free of Palestinians, for military use and/or settlement expansion.