The Israeli Civil Administration announced on Sunday, August 31th the planning takeover of almost 4000 dunums (approx. 1000 acres) in the area near to Betlehem. This is the biggest land confiscation in one announcement in the last 30 years.
This massive appropriation affects five Palestinian villages called Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin. Realizing this illegal and criminal action means that the Palestinians who are living in this area will not only lose their land but they will be affected with new daily harassment, which is going to exacerbate their lives and harm their right of movement. The Palestinian villages will be surrounded by so-called „security fences“, checkpoints, maybe a new apartheid wall, new apartheid roads, which leads to longer detours and will severely restrict the possibilities for Palestinians to get in or out of their villages. Moreover, the land theft means the destruction of their harvest.
Already since June three illegal outposts have been established around Betlehem. The confiscated area now is also located south to Betlehem and close to the illegal settlement called Gevaot, which is to be expanded. Israel has announced nearly 1,500 new settlement homes since mid-June, Maan reported, which could house more than 6,000 new settlers in the West Bank.
This latest land confiscation has even been criticized by officials of the U.S. State Department as ‘counterproductive for the peace efforts, which were made recently after the agreement with the parties in Gaza and the Israeli government’. European and US leaders have asked Israel to reverse this policy.
In fact, this new land confiscation is an integral part of the onslaught against the Palestinian people that has seen in the criminal attack on Gaza its most horrific expression. Since the end of the Kerry Initiative of talks between the Palestinian leadership and Israel, Israel has continuously sought to increase land confiscation, ethnic cleansing and brutal repression of the Palestinian people.
The Israeli excuse that the land confiscation is to be a ‘revenge’ for the kidnapping of the settlers in June is a simple admission of another war crime committed by Israel – yet another premeditated and organized act of collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Moreover, it loses any credibility within the framework of the existing overall plans of ethnic cleansing openly presented by Israel since time. Haaretz reports in fact that "the intention of appropriating the land is to create territorial continuity between the Green Line and settlements of Beitar Illit, Kfar Etzion, and Gvaot. The announcement is the latest in a series of plans designed to attach the Etzion settlement bloc to Jerusalem and its environs." The area overlaps in good part with the land to be isolated by the Apartheid Wall in order to connect the existing settlement blocks to Jerusalem and expel the Palestinian population from this area.
This massive land grab has to be stopped. Not undertaken actions or reactions will simply by another green light for further land theft by the occupying Israeli government.