Court sets hearing date for firing zone evacuation plan

State is expected to present court with relocation plan for 8 small Palestinian Beduin villages in W. Bank.

Firing Zone 918 370 (photo credit: Maskit Bendel and Liza Rozovsky/ACRI)
Firing Zone 918 370
(photo credit: Maskit Bendel and Liza Rozovsky/ACRI)
The High Court of Justice has scheduled for September 2 a hearing on the state’s plan to expel eight small Palestinian Beduin villages in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills from Firing Zone 918.
On Friday, in light of that date, the state asked the High Court for an August 6 deadline to file its latest position on the matter.
The state did so after failing to twice to meet the High Court deadline for that written argument.
After it failed to meet its July 7 deadline, the court cancelled a hearing set for July 15, but insisted the state must submit its written argument by July 12.
The state failed to meet that deadline as well, and instead asked for an extension until August 6.
As part of its written argument the state is expected to present the court with a relocation plan for the villages.
According to the state, the eight villages were illegally constructed in a closed military zone.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has helped the villages battle the expulsion order for over 15 years, has explained that these small communities have existed in the South Hebron Hills prior to the Six Day War, when the area was under Jordanian rule.
The eight villages, of some 1,000 people, consist of homes inside caves, tents, and small one room structures that allow the Palestinian farmers to herd sheep and goats as well as produce small crops.
The villages are set off from the main paved roads, and are accessible only by dirt roads.
Late last month, some 24 Israeli writers signed a petition on behalf of the villages, including David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Eyal Megged and Yoram Kaniuk before he died.
“For the past 20 years, Israel has been actively expelling and displacing the inhabitants of the South Hebron Hills villages. These villagers have always practiced a unique lifestyle: most of them are cave dwellers and find their livelihood in sheep and goat herding and small crop farming,” the authors said.
“Over these years they have suffered unceasing harassment by the Israeli army and settlers. Their dwellings are repeatedly demolished, water cisterns ruined and sealed, and their crops destroyed,” the authors said.
Megged said, “If we can do something to somehow lessen the injustice that is being done here, if we can say something to gild the ugly face of Israeli society as it is reflected in the state’s actions here, I believe that we will already have done something.”
He added, “I think that no one is interested in what is going on here, it’s a godforsaken place far from the center of attention, while the symbolism of all these wrongdoings is great and meaningful. This is a very ugly mirror image of the country.”