Israel wants to confiscate over 3,000 acres in West Bank ‘for military purposes’ – report

A sign reading "State land, no trespassing" is seen near the Palestinian village of Jab'a (Reuters/Baz Ratner)
Israel has plans to take 3,176 acres of Palestinian land around a West Bank village near central Jerusalem, according to residents of the village who were handed orders signed by the head of IDF Central Command, Ma’an news agency reports.

Beit Iksa residents told Ma’an that the orders, signed by the Israeli military commander in the West Bank, Nitzan Alon, were distributed Saturday morning by the soldiers. They gave residents of the village until 2017 to evacuate the land.
Ma’an also published maps of the areas to be expropriated.

Soldiers who are deployed at the military checkpoint at the entrance to the village have also told the residents that a liaison officer would be arriving in the village on Monday to clarify the order.

Soldiers said that the decision had been made in 2012 to seize land for “security needs in this village adjacent to the green line,” Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. They said the new order was intended to reinforce a previously taken decision.

The IDF spokesman’s office refused to comment on the report to the Times of Israel.

The village is an area of great sensitivity because it is situated less than a kilometer from Route 1 – the main road from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv – and it is surrounded on all sides by the Israeli West Bank barrier. Israeli forces closed off roads leading to the village in 2006.

A West Bank village near Jerusalem (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Ma’an reports that 93 percent of the village is already under full Israeli military control, and the lands are de-facto already confiscated. Villagers cannot go to Jerusalem without permits, and Palestinians from other areas cannot access the village.

The mayor of Beit Iksa, Saʻadeh al-Khatib, told WAFA that human rights organizations had to step in to help rescind the order as it would prevent scores of farmers from accessing their own lands.

The occupied territories of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip have been seeking full statehood and independence from Israel for decades now, with thousands of people having perished in one of the most prolonged and bitter confrontations in modern history.

The Palestinians have lobbied for full recognition as a sovereign state from the UN and the international community. Palestine has already been granted non-member, observer-state status in the UN and it continues to push for recognition while Israel continues to proceed with plans to build thousands of new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

More than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and around east Jerusalem, built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Israel approved “an unprecedented” number of 13,851 new settler homes during nine-months of peace talks with Palestine, an Israeli NGO revealed in April.

The plans were all in West Bank areas, with 4,793 units approved for the construction in “isolated” settlements and 1,768 units closer to the Green Line, which separates Israeli territory and the occupied West Bank.