“Israel orders demolition of eight Palestinian villages.”

Umm al-Kheir, South Hebron Hills. To the left: The rubble of the home of a widow with 9 children, demolished on 1/25/12. Center: The shack in which she and her children now live. On the right: the settlement of Karmel. Source: Wikimedia Commons

From Monday’s HaAretz, the peerless Amira Hass reporting:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the demolition of eight Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills because the territory is needed for Israel Defense Forces training exercises, the state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday.

The residents of the targeted villages will be moved to the town of Yatta and its environs; the state claims, based on information it obtained from local informers, that most of these people have permanent homes in that area.

The state will allow the residents to work their lands and graze their flocks there when the IDF is not training — on weekends and Jewish holidays – and during two other periods of one month each during the year. Barak agreed to leave four villages that are in the northernmost part of the area, even though this would reduce the dimensions of training area and prevent the use of live fire.

…The IDF and the Civil Administration regard all of them as squatters in Firing Zone 918, even though the villages have existed since at least the 1830s.

…The state also claims that in recent years residents have been repeatedly violating the status quo by expanding structures illegally.

Sometimes the news speaks for itself. (I particularly like that last sentence in light of this fact: “Israel’s government broke all its settlement-building records in 2011.“)