The Israeli authorities issued 3 military orders to seize 1191 dunums from the Palestinian agricultural lands. Two of these orders are about the construction of 2 new settlement roads; one in the northern West Bank and the other in the Southern, while the third order is about closing areas for military purposes. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) hereby condemns the issuance of these military orders, which violate the rules and provisions of the international humanitarian law, UN Resolutions, particularly Security Council’s Resolution (2334) of 23 December 2016, which calls upon Israel to freeze all settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem affirms that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity. Thus, PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to break its silence and hold legal and moral responsibilities in taking a serious stand to curb the Israeli Government’s settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
Based on the decisions and the attached road plans clarifying their tracks, the construction of these 2 roads would lead to swallowing up hundreds of dunums of Palestinian agricultural lands as well as the dunums already included in the seizure orders. Those military orders were as follows:
First: The Howarah Bypass Road: This road starts from the Za’tara checkpoint and ends on the “Yitzhar” settlement Bypass Road, south of Nablus, noting that it will pass through the lands of Bita, Howarah and Burin villages and between the residents’ houses. The seizure order, which was signed by the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Ahaf Ben Hor, includes the following: A 406-dunum land for building a main road (Howarah Bypass Road), which meets the transportation needs of the Israeli and Palestinian residents in the area. The decision is titled as “Land Law (Acquisition for Public Needs) (Order No. 321) (Judea and Samaria), 5729-1969; (Howarah Bypass Road) No. 19/2/h.
Israeli sources said, “The construction of a bypass road costs 250 million shekels. This road will be for both the Palestinians and Israelis. The construction works on the road will start upon the completion of Supreme Court’s proceedings, to which the Palestinians are expected to resort to for challenging this order, noting that it might take up to two years to build it.” According to the plans attached to the seizure order, the bypass road will start from Za’tara military checkpoint, pass by Bita Central Vegetable Market, pass through al-Nejma area, pass by Luna Park, and pass through the mountain, which is in front of the water well, towards Howarah village.
Second: Al-‘Aroub Bypass Road: This road starts from “Gush Etzion” settlement, south of Bethlehem, and ends in “Karmei Tzur” settlement, south of Hebron, noting that it will pass through the lands of Beit ‘Ummar village, al-‘Aroub refugee camp and Halhoul. The seizure order included the following: a 401-dunum land for building a main road (al-‘Aroub Bypass Road) to meet the transportation needs of the Israeli and Palestinian residents of the area. The order is titled as “Land Law (Acquisition for Public Needs) (Order No. 321) (Judea and Samaria), 5729-1969; (al-‘Aroub Bypass Road) No. 19/2/h.”
The available information about the above-mentioned road indicates that it will isolate al-‘Aroub refugee camp, Beit ‘Ummar village and parts of Halhoul village. Moreover, the road will pass through the most fertile agriculture lands in Hebron, which are famous for growing almonds and grapes. According to the plans attached to the seizure order, the Bypass Road will pass through parts of Khirbet Om Tale’, Khirbet Briqout, Beit Za’ta, Abu Soda Mount, Fredees, al-Forn Mount, al-Sheikh Valley, al-‘Aroub Valley, Beit ‘Ummar lands, Khirbet al-Khaizaran, al-Hawawer, Ras al-Qady, Khirbet Um al-Daraj, Khirbet Beit Khorat, al-Jomjoma, ‘Ein al-Shonnar, Um Suliman, al-Ramouz, Daher al-Bow, Wardan, lands in Halhoul village.
Third: Seizure of new lands from Tubas: The Israeli forces issued 2 military orders signed by the IDF Commander in Judea and Samaria, Nadaf Badan. Under the first order, 283 dunums of Tubas lands will be seized while the second order was about seizure of 101 dunums of Tubas, Tamoun and Tayaseer villages.
Moataz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the Jordan Valley/Tubas, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the two seizure orders included 384 dunums, while the area of lands that will be isolated was about 42,000 dunums, including the communities of Yerza, Ras al-Ahmar, al-Faw Valley, Kherbit al-Mayitah, parts of Khirbet Samra, al-Maleh, and ‘Ain al-Hilweh. He also said that the Israeli forces closed 70% of Tubas and the northern Jordan Valley lands. The area of the closed lands is 200,000 dunums, including 102,000 dunums from Tubas and 98,700 dunums from Tamoun. The closure came under the pretext of being in the military training areas, military zones and nature reserves. It should be noted that the Israeli authorities established 10 settlements, 3 new settlement outposts and 7 camps for the Israeli soldiers in those areas.
PCHR strongly condemns the abovementioned seizure orders. Thus, PCHR:
- Reiterates its call for an immediate and effective international action to restore confidence in the rule of the law and put an end to the prolonged Israeli challenge and denial of the international law and to the inherent impunity enjoyed by Israel for decades;
- Calls upon the UN, particularly the UNSC and General Assembly, to take practical measures to face Israel’s blatant violation of the international law rules and to put an end to treating Israel as a State above the law; and
- Expresses its concern over the suspicious international silence of Israeli resolutions and calls upon the international community to take genuine steps to ensure the implementation of the UN Council resolution No. (2334) related to the condemnation of Israeli settlements.