The Israeli High Court is set to rule this week on the forced expulsion of all residents of the village of Khirbat Zanuta, southwest of Hebron in the West Bank. Israel Civil Administration ordered the demolition of Zanuta in 2007, on the absurd grounds that structures in the village were built without permits, but the High Court ruled that year that authorities must "find a solution" for the villagers before any eviction. But last year the Zionist organization Regavim, with a base of support among local Israeli settlers, succeeded in reviving the case by filing a new request for demolition. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which represents the Zanuta residents, says that in a High Court hearing last year, "the justices delivered harsh criticism of the State for its intent to demolish the village without suggesting a solution for its residents." But the demolition request was not dismissed, and villagers fear imminent eviction.
The Zanuta villagers consider themselves stewards of the ancient archaeological sites, and have guarded against any looting or destruction of artifacts. The village is located in what Israel calls "Area C," a designation created under the Oslo Accords in 1993 for land that was to remain under Israeli control, with a transition to Palestinian rule within five years. That never happened, and all areas designated as "Area C" in 1993 remain under full Israeli control today—and have been aggressively colonized by settlers over the past 20 years.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Zanuta is caught in "an absurd Catch 22 that penalizes residents for failing to apply for a permit they could never have been granted. If these demolition orders are carried out, the residents of Zanuta will be stripped of their most basic humanitarian rights: shelter, water, and livelihood, not to mention dignity, culture, and way of life. As an occupying power in Area C, Israel is bound by international law to protect the indigenous community." (IMEMC, Haaretz, Oct. 13; Maan News Agency, July 30, 2012)
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