For decades, the Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta have lived under constant threat of expulsion by Israeli authorities. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have witnessed first-hand how these conditions are harming people’s physical and mental health.
The desert region, located in the southern West Bank in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, was designated a closed military zone in 1981, rendering its residents “illegal” and thus eligible for eviction under Israeli law. As a result, homes, schools, and other structures have been demolished, and many Palestinians have been forced from their homes in what may amount to forcible transfer, which is prohibited under international law.
Today, 1,144 Palestinians remain in Masafer Yatta, including 569 children. In addition to demolition of their homes, schools, and other structures, residents live with limited access to food, water, education, and medical care, and increasing harassment and restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities, including more checkpoint installations, vehicle confiscation, and curfews.
In response, MSF is running three clinics in the area, providing basic health care and a range of services including pediatric care, treatment for chronic communicable diseases, reproductive care, mental health care for survivors of violence, and nutritional screening.