Israel to annex 1,250 acres of Palestinian land to build illegal outposts

Published April 24th, 2016 - 06:28 GMT
Israeli forces talk with Jewish settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost as they stage a sit-in to prevent Palestinians from working in their fields, Jan. 2, 2013. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
Israeli forces talk with Jewish settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost as they stage a sit-in to prevent Palestinians from working in their fields, Jan. 2, 2013. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

The Israeli authorities on Saturday delivered notices to the Palestinian village of Jalud in the northern occupied West Bank, alerting residents that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation in what appeared to be the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts in the area.

Officials from Jalud's local council told Ma'an that the military identified areas of the Palestinian village expected to lose land to the confiscation as Khallat al-Wusta, Shieb Khallat al-Wusta, and Abu al-Kasbar.

However, the illegal outposts of Adei Ad, Esh Kodesh, Ahiya, and Kidah have already been established in the areas, marking the confiscation as Israel's most recent retroactive legalization of unauthorized settlement construction.

Israel's High Court of Justice last year declared its intention to retroactively formalize the string of outposts, established in violation of both Israeli and international law, according to the UN.

Jalud officials told Ma'an that the notice delivered to the Nablus-area village was signed by Israeli army's head of Central Command Roni Numa, who said he believed "certain steps are needed to prevent terror attacks" and he as a result gave orders to confiscate the land "for security reasons."

The land will be declared as "state land" and fall under full control of the Israeli military, the officials added.
A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)‪ was not immediately available for comment on the confiscation notice.

A PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma'an that confiscation orders like those delivered to Jalud aim solely to expand illegal settlements, despite citing alleged security concerns.

"Security reasons are just a tool to cover up land robberies for settlement construction," Daghlas said.

Daghlas warned that the retroactive confiscation would pave the way for continuing settlement expansion in the area, ultimately connecting the illegal outposts with the adjacent Shilo settlement via Alon Road, a bypass highway intended only for Israeli settler and military use.

Daghlas told Ma'an that Jalud's local council had filed complaints to Israel's High Court against settlement activity on their private land, which settlers have taken over and harvested illegally after the Israeli army designated the areas as closed military zones.

Some 12 illegal settlements and 27 settlement outposts are located in the Nablus district housing around 23,000 of the "most extremist settlers in the Palestinian territory," according to Daghlas.

The UN in January warned the Israeli authorities against legalizing the four outposts near Jalud, which have been widely acknowledged by the international community and Israel itself as a hotbed for both unlawful settlement activity and settler violence, coming as a detriment to Palestinian locals.

Outside of the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians living in the area have been forced to implement voluntary night guards in order to protect against settler attacks launched by outpost residents.

Israel has recently stepped up land confiscation in the occupied West Bank, with settlement watchdog Peace Now last month warning that Israel has not confiscated such large swathes of land for the purpose of settlement expansion since the pre-Oslo period in the 1980s.

Following Israel's confiscation of land south of Jericho last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the "systematic land grab" constituted "a flagrant violation of international law."

"The Israeli government is not interested in peace," Hamdallah said. "It rather implement(s) a policy designed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state."

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