Sunday, May 08, 2022

  • Sunday, May 08, 2022
  • Elder of Ziyon
Here is how Rashida Tlaib quoted antisemite Mohammed El-Kurd about last week's High Court ruling on Masafer Yatta:

El-Kurd goes on to say that 2,400 people live in the 22 "ancient" villages of Masafer Yatta. (The current population is about 1,200 in between 8-11 outposts.)

Wikipedia's "History" section of Masafer Yaffa is very sparse, and purposefully vague. Here it is in its entirely of the history before 1967:

In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) noted the following places: Shảb el Butm, meaning "the spur of the terebinth",[3] Tuweil esh Shîh, meaning "the peak or ridge of Artemisia",[3] Kh. el Fekhît, meaning "the ruin of the fissure",[4] and Kh. Bîr el 'Edd, meaning "the ruin of the perennial well".[5]

At Kh. Bîr el 'Edd PEF noted "traces of ruins, and a cistern",[6] while at Kh. el Fekhît, they noted "traces of ruins, and a cave."[6]
The Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine was a meticulous undertaking that listed every village, every mosque, every cistern, every cave, every orchard and every ancient winepress that could be seen in the entire region. Here is its key to its maps. While not mentioned in the key, its other maps show that inhabited areas are colored pink and show the exact boundaries of villages and towns:


Here is its map of the area of Masafer Yatta, where I highlight the four "places" mentioned in the Wikipedia article. 



There is no indication of any inhabitation. Two of them are ruins (as described in detail in the article) and the other two are descriptors of areas. The PEF did not record any village nor orchard or farmland; indeed no hint of any residents. It is all desert and dried up wadis. 

So much for the lie that Palestinians have lived there for generations.

What about more recently?

This Guardian article (linked to in Wikipedia)  claims that Ariel Sharon said in the 1980s that he wanted to create an IDF firing zone there in order to expel the residents there at the time.

According to the minutes of a 1981 ministerial meeting, the then agriculture minister, Ariel Sharon, later prime minister, proposed creating Firing Zone 918 with the explicit intention of forcing local Palestinians from their homes. 
This is indeed a Haaretz headline from 2020:


But the article itself quotes nothing about evicting existing residents. It says that Sharon wanted to stop the migration of illegal Palestinian outposts that were spreading to that area:

The document – minutes of a July 1981 meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Settlement Affairs – indicates that Ariel Sharon, who was the minister of agriculture at the time, proposed that land in the South Hebron Hills be allocated to the Israel Defense Force for live-fire training. Sharon explained that he wanted the military to use the land on account of “the expansion of the Arab villagers from the hills.”

He prefaced his remarks by saying: “I want to tell the representatives of the general staff, we want to offer you additional training areas. Additional training areas must be closed in at the border, [between] the bottom of the Hebron Hills and the Judean Desert. In light of that phenomenon – the spreading of the Arab villagers on the mountainside toward the desert.”

Sharon added: “We have an interest in expanding and enlarging the shooting zones there, in order to keep these areas, which are so vital, in our hands... Many additional areas for training could be added, and we have a great interest in [the army] being in that place.” An IDF representative said in response: “We’d be very happy to have that.” Later in the meeting it was decided that the agriculture minister’s adviser on settlement affairs would meet with representatives from the IDF and show them the places marked for additional shooting zones “to keep the areas in our hands.”  
The plain meaning is that the areas were under Israeli control already but, then as now, Palestinians were engaging in land grabs by building new outposts in strategic, empty areas to stop Jews from moving there. (And Jews do the exact same thing when they build outposts against Israeli law.)

This is exactly what the High Court ruled - that there was no evidence that there were any Arabs living in the area of Firing Zone 918 before it was declared, as the Jerusalem Post repors:

The ruling further explained that the attorneys representing the Palestinians had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the Palestinian herders had used the land prior to the 1980 declaration or that the 3,000 hectares (approximately 7,400 acres) in question were a firing zone.  
Palestinian activists can argue about whether the firing zone being built to block Arabs from building illegally in Area C in empty areas is legal under Israeli law. (I see no reason why not.)  They are argue that today there are residents, legal or not, and they have rights not to be evicted. 

But they have no evidence that these were pre-existing villages. On the contrary, there is every indication that Palestinians moved to the firing zone area, deliberately and illegally, to do a land grab in Area C.

The lies are everywhere. The Israeli government and IDF does a really poor job of spreading the truth.



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