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Where Villages Stood
Israel's Continuing Violations of International Law in Occupied Latroun, 1967-2007
Hundreds of metres separate you from your lands and the place your loved ones are buried, but you are unable to reach them because of military orders issued by a person and power that does not give any weight to your dignity, your needs or your rights. Rather, that foreign power persists in seeking to aggravate you and erode any hope that you may have of returning in the future. This is oppression. The people of the Latroun villages live this reality everyday, like millions of their fellow Palestinians who were forced to leave their land by Israel, finding themselves refugees elsewhere in Palestinian territory or scattered across international borders to the four corners of the world.
This study sheds light on the suffering of tens of thousands of Palestinians whom, since 1967 to this day, are prevented from returning to their villages in Latroun, while at the same time the ruins of their homes are built upon by an Occupying Power the deep-rooted Palestinian history of the land is concealed by parks for Israelis to enjoy their barbecues, masking the crimes and human rights violations committed. Complicit in these violations are organisations based in Canada, a modern democracy which has ratified the principle instruments of international human rights and humanitarian law, and which pushed for the establishment of the International Criminal Court.
Al-Haq has developed this study through a long and painstaking process of collecting information that is unavailable in any other study of its kind. We have had the benefit of accessing official Israeli archives containing documentation related to the crimes committed in the Latroun villages. The process involved detailed research and translation, as well as interviews of individuals who participated in or were eyewitnesses to the crimes.
The forced displacement of populations is an international crime that continues to be committed if the population remains displaced and prevented from returning to their homes or property, not least where it is committed for political ends. However, the aim of this study is not limited to the documentation of an international crime, but to also disclose the policy that stands behind it, and to place evidence in the hands of victims seeking justice, in the hope that the opportunity will one day arise for the perpetrators and architects of this crime to be held accountable. The question remains as to how realistic this hope is in light of the inability of third states to fulfill their clear obligations under international law. Unfortunately, political interests often prevail over the rules, principles and obligations of law, making the commission of human rights violations and international crimes a daily occurrence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and other parts of the world. Perseverance in the hope of justice requires unwavering commitment and diligent work in order to keep the candle alight in the defence of human rights.
This study would not have seen the light of day but for the sustained effort and dedication of many people, both within and outside of Al-Haq. Special thanks, however, must be extended to our legal researcher John Reynolds for his efforts in coordinating, researching and writing the study itself.
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