The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies is deeply concerned that, under the cover of the Gaza War that includes forms of genocidal retribution, the ongoing expulsion of Palestinian communities from their villages in the West Bank will intensify dramatically and that, should the war develop into a regional conflict, Israel might embark on a massive act of ethnic cleansing that could spill across international borders. In addition to the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza, these are yet more reasons for an immediate ceasefire. This warning is based on our extensive collective expertise as scholars of Palestine/Israel, and is issued in line with our ethical responsibilities to educate the public and promote public awareness of significant issues unfolding in the region, while encouraging cooperation and exchange amongst persons concerned with the scholarly study of the Middle East.
The expulsion of Palestinian communities, although underreported, is already underway (for example see here, here, here, here, and here) in the hills east of Ramallah, the Jordan Valley and in the South Hebron Hills (see map below). Often escorted by soldiers and backed by police, Israeli settlers routinely attack Palestinian communities, at times killing or torturing them, whilst also destroying structures and olive trees; stealing cars, livestock, and agricultural equipment; as well as vandalising water tanks, pipes and solar panels. Since Hamas’s attack on October 7, eight communities have been forced to abandon their villages for fear of being killed, and six others have been partially evacuated. These actions are part of Israel’s longstanding policy of making life so miserable for dozens of Palestinian communities in the West Bank that the residents eventually leave, seemingly of their own accord.
Map of West Bank: Areas in Blue under Threat of Expulsion