UN rapporteurs call on Israel to stop harassing aid workers and activists in the West Bank

Today, Tuesday, United Nations rapporteurs called on Israel to stop "harassing" aid workers and human rights defenders in the occupied West Bank , where the Israeli army is conducting training.

"The arrogance of the Israeli authorities knows no bounds," the four rapporteurs said in a statement. "It harasss human rights defenders and aid workers who seek to support and protect those facing grave human rights violations in Masafer Yatta."

In May, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the army's position, considering that Masafer Yatta, which includes 12 Palestinian villages at the southern tip of the West Bank, has been a training area since 1980, and this decision paves the way for the possible expulsion of its residents and the construction of new settlements.

“The tragic repercussions of this decision are now before our eyes: the nearly 1,200 Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta have been left unprotected in the face of the threat of forced eviction and arbitrary displacement,” said the rapporteurs mandated by the UN Human Rights Council but not speaking on its behalf. .

Masafer Yatta is located in “Area C” under Israeli military and civilian control, under the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords of 1993 that divided the Israeli-occupied West Bank into three areas A, B and C.

The four rapporteurs expressed their "dissatisfaction with reports that human rights defenders and humanitarian workers have been harassed by the Israeli army in Masafer Yatta."

According to these experts, they were arrested and held for several hours at checkpoints, and their personal documents or cars were confiscated, under the pretext of entering a military site without a permit.

They expressed particular concern about Sami Al-Harini, a prominent human rights defender and member of the "Sumoud Youth" movement, which experts consider an "active group engaged in a peaceful resistance against the illegal settlements on the hills in southern Hebron".

On June 28, 2022, it was reported that Al-Harini was arrested at a checkpoint in Masafer Yatta, and he is currently being tried in the Ofer Military Court, on charges of interfering with and assaulting a soldier and entering a closed military zone, following his participation in a demonstration on January 8, 2021.

His lawyer, Reham Nasra, told AFP he was being tried "just because he dared to protest against the occupation".

"Sami, like other Masafer Yatta activists who believe in peaceful protest, suffers from the daily persecution of the army and the injustice of military law that tramples on the basic human rights of Palestinians," Nasra said. 

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