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On May 4, the Israeli Occupation High Court approved one of the largest forcible transfers of Palestinians from their land since 1967. Over 1,300 Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta, an area in the south Hebron hills, are facing forced displacement by Israeli forces on a moment’s notice. Palestinian Bedouins have lived on this land for 918 years. 

Masafer Yatta is an area in the South Hebron Hills area of the occupied West Bank consisting of fourteen Palestinian villages that is home to 13,000 inhabitants. Its economy is based on farming and raising of sheep and goats.  In the 1980s, the Israeli army designated part of this area a closed military zone for training and sought to remove the communities for this use. Palestinian residents have continually faced demolition of their homes, cisterns, water mains, roads, structures, and schools. Israeli military equipped with bulldozers destroys it all. Israel forbids Palestinians to build homes on their own land, connect to water and power grids, and graze livestock. 

In addition to using the area as a training zone, Israeli has expropriated huge amounts of land from residents to establish Israeli settlements (illegal under international law), whose residents regularly raid the community, viciously attack residents, and destroy structures. Israel now plans to build 4,000 new settlement units, requiring the demolition of 12 villages in Masafer Yatta, and the seizure of nearly 5,500 acres of land. All settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law. 

Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) initiated a congressional letter to Secretary of State Blinken that clearly states that forced displacement and transfer is a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. A war crime. It calls on the Biden administration to stop the destruction, and importantly also calls on the administration to condition military aid to the country. This is the letter that attracted just 15 signatures: Bush, Carson, DeSaulnier, Grijalva, Jayapal, Pocan, Garcia, Hank Johnson, Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, Newman, Pressley, Takano, and McCollum.

Jewish Voice for Peace urges us to continue pressuring members of Congress to stand against Israel’s Forced Displacement of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta. Call your members of congress and ask them to call on the State Department to use every possible tool to stop the Israeli government from forcibly transferring over 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank. These families could be displaced on a moment's notice and I demand that my representatives in Congress urgently take action to protect Palestinian rights.  

Senator Brown:  202-224-2315

Senator Rob Portman: 202-224-3353

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