How evictions and lack of services impact the health of Palestinian people in Masafer Yatta

Isfaya al Fouqa-Masafer Yatta

Occupied Palestinian Territories 2023 © Salam Khatib/MSF

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 m​​any ​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​, ​​​provid​ing​​ 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.​​​