Hundreds to be affected in Hebron demolitions
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Hundreds to be affected in Hebron demolitions

***image1***Hundreds of residents in the Beqa’ neighborhood in Hebron face the demolition of their homes and agricultural infrastructure in what they describe as an ongoing campaign to expand Occupation control in the area around the Kirya Arba settlement. Additionally, bulldozers are still clearing land for an electricity network that will power a number of settlements and military positions between Hebron and Bethlehem, among them Kirya Arba.

According to a report published by the Land Research Center (LRC), soldiers distributed military orders to residents in Beqa’ in March warning them to cease construction on 13 homes in the neighborhood as well as 9 structures used for rainwater collection. After handing out the orders, soldiers took pictures of each of the threatened homes and recorded the ID numbers of the owners.

A total of 93 people will lose their homes. 11 of the homes are already inhabited, and the remaining ones are in the final stages of construction. Residents reported that the demolitions would strengthen the nearby Kirya Arba settlement, which is slowly encroaching on the neighborhood.

In addition, some 300 people will be affected by the demolition of water collection pools, which will adversely affect local agricultural output. Farmers in Beqa’ are known for producing high-quality grapes, and thousands of dunums are planted with the fruit.

While Palestinians are displaced, Occupation forces continue to continue expanding settlements and strengthening their infrastructure. One such project is the planed electrical lines that will be built on hundreds of dunums of Palestinian land in the Hebron and Bethlehem districts. The villages of al-Khader, Nahalin, Beit Ummar, Halhul, Sa’ir, Beit Einoon, and Tarquimya, in addition to Hebron city, will be affected.

According to another report from the LRC, the first phase of this project, wherein power lines were constructed to provide the Karmi Tzur settlement with electricity, began in July 2007 and was completed in the first months of 2008. The second phase involves the installation of high voltage towers in Kiryat Arba and linking them to the Bitar Illit, west of Bethlehem. The lines will stretch between the two, providing the Telem settlement in Tarqumia as well as military towers and observation points along Route 60 with power.

A total of 1292 dunums will be appropriated for the construction, and agricultural land was also plowed and leveled to clear bases for the towers. Waves emitted by the towers pose a health risk to local Palestinians, while the areas directly around the towers are rendered unsafe.

The project will also prevent Palestinians near the towers from building or adding new floors to existing buildings. Multiple floor structures are prohibited near tower, and this will doubtless provide Occupation forces with further pretexts for home demolitions.