Bedouins ousted from West Bank

KHIRBET AL-MEITEH, West Bank — The Israeli military on Wednesday 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 that 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 and spurring frequent complaints from Palestinians.


The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank as a key part of a future state.

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After receiving the latest evacuation order, one family dismantled its tents, loading sheep and small children onto a trailer in the community of Khirbet al-Meiteh.

‘‘We will sleep here tonight, in this trailer,’’ said Walid Zawahiri, 57. ‘‘There’s nowhere else to go.’’

The area, mostly desert, is home to 60,000 Palestinians, the United Nations estimates. Some 8,000 are Bedouins.