KHIRBET AL-MEITEH, West Bank — The Israeli military today ordered dozens of Palestinian Bedouins to leave their communities so it could conduct military exercises in a remote area of the West Bank.
The military said the order was temporary, and that the Palestinians were living illegally in closed military zones. The Bedouins say they have lived in the area for decades. While the army has issued temporary evacuation orders in the past, Bedouins say they have increased in frequency, and they charge the practice is meant to pressure them to leave their homes.
Israel has used largely empty areas of the West Bank for military bases, firing ranges and maneuvers since shortly after it captured the territory in 1967, marking off large areas for exclusive use of the military and bringing frequent complaints from Palestinians. The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank as a key part of a future state.
Although Palestinians have a measure of self-rule in other parts of the West Bank, Israel retrains overall military and administrative control over most of the Jordan Valley, where the evacuations were ordered.