Bulldozers uprooted around 300 olive saplings in the village of Jabâa, western Bethlehem. Occupation forces have considered it âstate land,â meaning that the owners are barred from cultivating or using it in any way.
***image1***On February 18, bulldozers entered the targeted land and razed some 300 olive saplings. Two days prior, the owners had received military orders demanding that they remove all traces of agriculture, including trees and machinery, from the targeted land. The owners were expected to pay for the removal themselves.
The land belongs to four large families, the Mashâaleh, Abu Loha, Abu Sbeha and Hamdan. It has been passed down from generation to generation, with the current owners inheriting it from their fathers. The lands are also located less than 200 meters away from a military base and terminal that has been under construction since 2006. Occupation forces have laid claim to land, despite the fact the inheritors posses official ownership papers, on account of its proximity to the base and terminal.
According to a source in the village council, land has been continually confiscated from Jabâa. Four similar military orders were issued last January, confiscating 47.2 dunums in the same general area and requiring that the owners take responsibility for moving machinery and trees. Jabâa, which is encircled by the Wall and has been robbed of most of its land to surrounding settlements, has been hard hit by the confiscations.
Since the beginning of 2009, Occupation forces have confiscated a considerable amount of land from across the West Bank. The campaign has focused on the Bethlehem area, with the villages of Nahalin, Husan, Battir, Irtas and al-Khader all affected. The largest confiscation occurred last week, when 1,700 dunums were taken from Irtas and al-Khader for the expansion of the Efrat settlement.