August 9th, 2020
Document exposed by Akevot: Ariel Sharon instructed IDF to create training zone to displace Palestinians

Ahead of a High Court of Justice hearing on Monday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel submitted a document Akevot has found at Israel State Archives: transcript of a 1981 meeting in which Ariel Sharon instructed the IDF to create training zones in South Mt. Hebron to displace the area’s Palestinian residents.

A High Court hearing is expected tomorrow in the case submitted by hundreds of Palestinian residents of the Massafer Yatta area, against the State’s ongoing efforts to displace them and demolish their 8 hamlets. The State is attempting to displace over 1,000 residents since 1999, claiming the area was declared a military training zone in the early 1980’s.

Ahead of the hearing, the petitioners represented by ACRI, provided the court with a transcript of a July 1981 meeting that allows a rare glimpse into the motivation behind declaring the area a training zone, supporting the petitioners’ position that declaring the area a training zone was unlawful, contradicted international law, and was not dictated by operational considerations.

The document, a transcript of a hearing held by the Joint Government and WZO committee on Settlements in July 1981, shows Ariel Sharon, committee’s chairman, has asked IDF representatives in the meeting to declare training zones in this area, saying the government has an interest in military presence there due to restrict “expansion of the Arab villagers from the hills towards the desert”. Sharon’s request became a formal committee’s decision.

Commenting on a previous document Akevot has found and ACRI submitted to the High Court in this case, Justice Meltzer told the State’s representatives in a 2017 HCJ hearing that according to the document presented there was no room the declare a military training zone at the Massafer Yatta area. The newly-discovered transcript is expected to be discussed in the HCJ hearing tomorrow.

Read Ofer Aderet’s story in Haaretz, today:

ACRI Info-sheet: The 12 Villages of Firing Zone 918 in the South Hebron Hills:

UN OCHA backgrounder:

Access the complete transcript (Hebrew):

Access relevant sections of the transcript (Hebrew):