In the firing zone: evictions begin in West Bank villages after court ruling

Palestinians in Masafer Yatta – or Firing Zone 918 to the Israelis – vow to rebuild as homes are bulldozed

Below the dusty plateau, home to Khribet al-Fakhiet village, on the southern edge of the occupied West Bank, sheep, goats and camels belonging to Palestinian Bedouin roam the hills. The Israeli town of Arad glitters in the distance and, across the valley to the east, the mountains of neighbouring Jordan rise up to meet the sky. Much closer to home, the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Yair looms from the next ridge.

Bone-shattering unpaved roads crisscross this poverty-stricken, hilly semi-desert, part of the 60% of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. Palestinians call it Masafer Yatta, a collection of villages with a population of about 1,000. To the Israeli state, however, this is Firing Zone 918, a military training area in which civilians are prohibited. The fight for control of this 3,000 hectares (7,410 acres) is one of the fiercest battles of the Israeli occupation.

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