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Jinba - Life in a village where its inhabitants are facing the threat of expulsion from their homes

Jinba is a village in the south-western corner of Masafer Yatta, a collection of about 19 Palestinian villages in the southern district of Hebron in the West Bank.

Jinba residents have been living under the threat of expulsion from their homes and land for the last 22 years.

Jinba is marked on maps from the mid-19th century, however, the Israeli Supreme Court accepted the army’s claim that the villagers are not permanent residents.

Ariel Sharon, acting as Minister of Agriculture in the late 1990s, argued that that the land in the south of Hebron had important strategic value. It was consequently declared as “Firing Zone 918”.

“Firing zone 918” means that the land becomes a closed military area, used for military training by the Israeli army and no civil presence is allowed.

As a result, the local Palestinian inhabitants are unable to work their land and eventually, face the threat of expulsion, property confiscations, and home demolitions.

In 1999, the villagers in Jinba were expelled from their homes along with inhabitants from other villages in south of Hebron. Photos of the expulsion, taken by B'Tselem’s field researcher, Nisreen 'Alian, provoked international criticism and the residents were, consequently, allowed to return to their homes. Since then, a legal battle has been waged, which ended on May 5, 2022, with the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to expel 1,000 residents from Jinba and from eleven other villages. The area would remain a “firing zone”. On January 9, 2023, residents of these villages received notices from the Israeli Civil Administration that the expulsion would soon take place. This has not happened as yet, however, severe restrictions are being imposed on the residents on a daily basis. Their aim is to bring about despair and abandonment of the land. Over the years, Jewish outposts have been established along the borders of the firing zone and adjacent to Jinba. Once Palestinians are expelled the practice is that the Jewish settlers take over this land. The designation of “firing zones” does not apply to the residents of these outposts.

None of the Palestinian villages in the area have direct supply of water or electricity. This is in stark contrast with the Israeli outposts, who are connected to the electricity grid and water supply very soon after they are set up. As applies to all the communities under the Occupation, building permits are not provided and therefore, it is impossible to build legally, even when the land is owned by the inhabitants. A military base has been set up close to Jinba, and heavy demolition equipment is kept there. Any attempt to build or repair a building in the village is demolished immediately. The army enters houses at night to count the number of family members who are present. This number determines the number of people who are allowed to live in that particular house.

As of March of this year, Jinba is surrounded by checkpoints, its residents are under curfew and cannot be visited by people from outside the village. During an emergency , medical or any other, rescue teams cannot enter the village. Anybody who is in need of medical care is carried to the checkpoint. Resident who wish to leave the village must wait for long periods of time at checkpoints and they are required to present certificates upon exiting and when wishing to return back home. As an example, teachers spend hours at the checkpoints and are late to school.

Israel, who is responsible for life in Area C, where Jinba and the other Massafer Yatta villages are located, conducts ethnic cleansing instead of fulfilling its responsibilities towards the Palestinian residents, according to international law. The description above is just one example of the conduct towards villages in the Massafer Yatta area and others in the West Bank. It reflects policies of the current Israeli government which are similar, yet being carried out with greater force, compared to previous governments. They will lead to eventual expulsion of the Palestinian residents and annexation of this land to the State of Israel.

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