BETHLEHEM — The Israeli occupation authorities today issued an order to seize thousands of dunums of land belonging to Palestinians in the village of Kisan, south of Bethlehem, in the southern occupied West Bank, according to a local source .
The director of the Office of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission, Hasan Breijieh told WAFA that Israel claimed that the takeover of the land, estimated at around 49,000 dunums, located southeast of the village, would be transformed into a nature reserve.
He added that the move is actually intended to facilitate the grabbing of more Palestinian land in the village to expand the illegal settlement of Abi Hanahal.
In the meantime, Abi Hanahal settlers today proceeded with the construction of a road for their settlement on the village lands, according to deputy head of Kisan village council, Ahmad Ghazal.
He told WAFA that the 2 kilometer long and 4 meter wide road intended to connect their settlement to an industrial area to the west of the village that the settlers also threw on the village land where signs solar panels and a solid waste recycling plant have been installed.
The road will lead to the takeover of hundreds of dunums of village land, Ghazal warned.
The village of Kisan:
Based 11 kilometers south of the city of Bethlehem, Kisan has a population of around 600 and occupies a total area of 133,330 dunums.
Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement reached 25 years ago that was to last just five years in favor of an autonomous country alongside Israel, the Palestinian Authority was given limited control over a tiny pocket of land occupying 112 dunums, representing less than one percent of the total village area. Israel maintains control of 108,952, classified as Zone C, representing 81.7 percent. The remaining part of 24,266 dunums, or 18 percent, is classified as a nature reserve.
Israel established three settlements, namely Maale Amos and Mizpe Shalem in addition to the settlement outpost of Ibi Hanahal, on land seized from the village. He confiscated other land for the construction of bypass road no. 901 and route no. 3698, which stretch for 16.1 kilometers on the village grounds.
Israel built a section of the apartheid wall, confiscating and isolating some 87,344 dunums of fertile land, representing 65.5% of the total village area, for settlement activities and pushing villagers into a crowded enclave, a ghetto, surrounded by walls, settlements and military installations.
Colonization in Bethlehem Governorate:
The existence, expansion and construction of settlements in the West Bank have long been recognized as illegal under international law.
In Bethlehem, a Palestinian governorate based in the southern occupied West Bank, there are now 23 illegal settlements, with a population of less than 100 to nearly 40,000, according to the Jerusalem Applied Research Institute ARIJ.
Each illegal Israeli settlement appropriates Palestinians` land and resources, often taking prime agricultural land or wooded areas to build on.
Colonization in the West Bank:
More than 700,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in violation of international law.
Israel occupied Jerusalem and the entire West Bank after the 1967 Six Day War and began establishing settlements in the area the following year.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is considered “occupied territory” under international law, making all Jewish settlements illegal.
Israel continues its expansion of settlements, taking advantage of international silence and the non-implementation of relevant resolutions recognized by the international community.
Israel recently announced more colonial projects and plans in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and carried out more demolition and land grabbing and displacement of Palestinian citizens, on the other side, settlers have intensified their attacks on defenseless Palestinians throughout the West Bank.
Original article (in French)
Photo: Israeli soldier with his eye on cultivated Palestinian land. Source: WAFA archive.