Israel orders Bedouins to leave West Bank area

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Updated 02 January 2013
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Israel orders Bedouins to leave West Bank area

JERICHO, Palestinian Territories: Around 500 Bedouin Palestinians were temporarily evacuated from their homes in the Jordan Valley yesterday as the Israeli army carried out exercises, residents and the army said. An AFP photographer at the scene saw dozens of people being evacuated in the Wadi Al-Maleh area in the north of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.
“These exercises have driven away more than 400 people, women, children and elderly people, and could have taken place elsewhere,” Aref Daraghmeh, a municipal official, told AFP. He said 75 families had received evacuation orders last week, ahead of the 24-hour exercise.
The Palestinian governor of the region, Majid Al-Fitiani, criticized the evacuation, saying “even an expulsion of 24 hours is unacceptable.”
The Israeli military acknowledged issuing 24-hour evacuation orders in a statement sent to AFP, noting that the homes residents were asked to leave had been constructed illegally, but pledging they would be allowed to return to them.
“Due to a military exercise... and in order to ensure the safety of the local inhabitants, temporary eviction notices were distributed today to the residents of the illegal structures located in a closed military zone,” the army said.
“At the conclusion of the exercise, the residents will be permitted to return,” the statement continued, emphasizing that Israel considers the homes in question “illegal in nature.” A similar temporary evacuation was carried out in the same region last year while Israeli forces carried out military exercises.
The area falls into the 60 percent of the West Bank classed as Area C, which is under full Israeli administrative and security control. Residents of the area are required to obtain Israeli building permits or face home demolitions.
Palestinians and rights activists say the permits are almost impossible to come by, so residents often build without them, leaving them open to Israeli demolitions.
Of the 60,000 Palestinians living in the Jordan River valley, “some 3,400 people reside partially or fully in closed military zones and face a high risk of forced eviction,” according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


Russia says no decision made yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

Updated 2 min 29 sec ago
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Russia says no decision made yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

Moscow: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision, the TASS news agency reported.
Russia’s daily Kommersant newspaper, citing unnamed military sources, reported earlier on Monday that Russia might start supplying the anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria in the near future. The Kremlin declined to comment.
Lavrov said on Friday that Western military strikes on Syria this month had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missile systems from its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“We’ll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take,” TASS cited Lavrov as saying on Monday during a visit to Beijing.
“There is probably no secret about this and it can all be announced (if a decision is taken),” added Lavrov.
Kommersant said on Monday that experts believed that Israel would react negatively to any decision to supply the missiles and might bomb the area where they would be deployed.
A Russian diplomat who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Israel has asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s. An Israeli government spokesman declined comment.