Monday, January 25, 2021

Firing Zone 918 – Khirbet Al-Fakhit

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By Calum Toogood - December 23, 2012
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Displacement] [South Hebron Hills] [Khirbet al-Fakhit] [Firing Zone 918] [Yatta]

Several miles from road 317 into the expanse of the South Hebron hills lays Khirbet Al-Fakhit, a village presently under danger of demolition due to Israel’s declared firing zone.

Only plausibly accessible by tractor or a rugged off-road vehicle, the village is home to approximately 200 people.  These people live predominately in tents since the building of any structure within the firing zone has been deemed illegal under Israeli law.
The declared closed military zone, which is known as Firing Area 918, encompasses around 12 Palestinian villages.  These villages are a-Tuba, al-Mufaqara, a-Sfay, Maghayir el-Abeed, al-Majaz, a-Tabban, al-Fakhit, al-Halaweh, al-Mirkez, Jinba, al-Kharuba, and a-Sarura.
They claim this is a closed military zone. So how come we are living in this area since a long time ago
The total population of this region is said to be around 1500.  According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem a small number of these people live on the land seasonally for the purpose of raising livestock and growing crops.
Eight of these villages including Al-Fakhit have received eviction orders and for the subsequent demolition of their homes.  The Israeli military has given these orders on the grounds that they require the land for military training.
“They claim this is a closed military zone. So how come we are living in this area since a long time ago?”  one villager said.  “And we are living our own lives.  So how can they just declare this a closed military zone?  You know we don’t see or hear training for the soldiers in this area— they are much further away.”
The Israeli military intends for this populace to be moved to the nearby town of Yatta.  From here it is stated they will be able to attend to their lands and livestock when the army isn’t training.  This would be only on weekends and Jewish holidays.
At present the villages make the majority of their income from selling milk and cheese, while a considerable amount of this production is also used to feed the families living there.
Due to the restrictions placed on Palestinians within the firing zone, many face reduced grazing areas for their livestock.  This results in the overgrazing of some land, having substantial repercussions on the villagers’ livelihoods.
The villages in the area have few services and basic services.  Most of this is relied upon from Yatta.  The journey to Yatta from the closed area can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 4 hours, which creates huge problems for those in need of medical attention.
Within the village of Khirbet Al-Fakhit a school has been built that also serves the children from the surrounding villages.  Up until 2008, when the school was established, the children of Al-Fakhit would have to attend school in Yatta.
Because of the time it takes to travel to Yatta many children would have to go live in the city, away from their immediate family.
Previous attempts have already been made by the Israeli military to demolish the school in Al-Fakhit as well as the solar panels which supply electricity to the village and the surrounding area.

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