The West Bank is a landlocked region. Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of Palestine, is one of its major cities.
The Israeli Supreme Court upheld a long-standing expulsion order against eight Palestinian villages in the West Bank, possibly displacing at least 1,000 people. The demolition of eight small villages is in the area known to Palestinians as Masafer Yatta and to Israelis as the South Hebron Hills.
In the early 1980s, the Israeli military declared the area a firing and training zone. According to Israeli authorities, the residents there only utilized the region for seasonal agriculture and had no permanent structures there at the time. Security troops evacuated 700 residents and burned homes in November 1999. The legal fight started the following year.
What do the expelled families say? The families claim to have lived in the area for decades, dating back to before Israel took the West Bank in the 1967 conflict.
What are the settlements?
- The West Bank was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
- Israel reclaimed it during the 1967 Six-Day War and has occupied it ever since. Israel allowed Jewish people to settle there.
What was the Six-Day War 1967?
The Six-Day War was a brief but violent confrontation between Israel and the Arab governments of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June 1967.
Israel took Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, Jordan’s West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights.
Even though Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982 and withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the status of the Golan Heights and the West Bank remains a sticking point in Arab-Israeli peace talks.
- In the West Bank, Israel has constructed over 130 formal settlements.
- Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers and 26 lakh Palestinians presently live here.
- The region remains a source of dispute because of the significant number of Palestinians who reside there and wish to see it become part of their future state.
Are these settlements illegal?
- The United Nations and the International Court of Justice stated that the West Bank settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.
- An occupying power, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
- According to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, such transfers are war crimes, as is “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”