A legal Opinion on behalf of the-then Military Advocate General, Col. Meir Shamgar, instructed that evacuation of civilian population for the benefit of military training was forbidden. Akevot has located the document at the IDF & Security Establishment Archives, for residents of the Masafer Yatta area who petitioned the High Court of Justice. During the hearing, Justice Meltzer commented that according to the document, a firing training zone must not have been declared in Masafer Yatta.
The High Court of Justice held a hearing on January 11, 2017 on petitions of some 1,000 residents of Masafer Yatta area, against the State’s attempts to displace them and demolish their eight villages. Since 1999 the state has been trying to evacuate residents of this South Mt. Hebron claiming the area was declared as a Firing Training Zone: Firing Zone 918.
Ahead of the High Court hearing, the petitioners submitted a 1967 document we found for them at the IDF & Security Establishment Archives; a legal opinion written on behalf of the-then MAG, Meir Shamgar. The legal opinion, titled “Training Zones in West Bank” instructed,
“Civilians cannot be evacuated from an area in order to create training zones for the IDF, both for political and humanitarian reasons, and for reasons related to the provisions of international law. Article 49 of the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, to which Israel is party, expressly prohibits the forcible transfer of civilians in an occupied territory, unless so required for imperative military reasons. In the case at hand, it cannot be said that military reasons clearly compel the evacuation of the territories designated to become training zones, and it follows that the forcible evacuation of population from these areas would constitute a breach of the provisions of the above Convention.”
At the start of the hearing Justice Hanan Meltzer asked lawyers representing the State for their position regarding the 1967 legal opinion. He commented that according to the document, a Firing Zone should not have been declared in this area. Following a lengthy hearing, the Court issued an Order Nisi, as requested by the petitioners. Representing the residents of Masafer Yatta were Attys. Dan Yakir and Roni Pelli of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Atty. Shlomo Lecker.