Settlement is expanding and narrowing Palestinian space

The occupation redraws the map, drawing separate dark spots surrounded by settlement communities seeking to nibble more land to expand their territory and reduce the area of Palestinian citizens.


This is what the tulkarem governorate, which is besieged by settlements from most sides and tries to break it up, particularly in the light of the announcement of the project to establish an Israeli industrial zone in late 2019, said The People's Committees Coordinator in the Campaign against the Wall and Settlements Suhail Al-Salman.


Industrial zone on the land of Shufa and Jabbara


"Tulkarem is surrounded by two settlements on the east, and there is a settlement expansion in the north, specifically in the town of Qaqin, and an industrial zone is now being talked about on the land of Shuffa and Jabbara."


Al-Salman explains that all settlement projects in the occupied territories are little more or less than the "Alon" project introduced in 1967, and the essence of this project is the complete isolation of the Jordan Valley, and the placement of Palestinians in separate communities, noting that the Alon project has been called "The Tiger Skin Project", meaning that the Palestinians are dark spots and Israelis surround them from all sides.


He points out that the incident in the villages of Shufa and Jabbara is an attempt to link the settlement of "Analab", which is located on the land of the villages of Kafr al-Labed, Beit Lid and Anabta, to the settlement of "Avni Hefts", while attempting to link the latter to the area that was decided to confiscate it for the industrial zone within the Green Line, explaining that the aim of the occupation is to establish a long settlement community that will practically isolate the villages south of Tulkarem, along with the city, from Qalqilya governorate.

The coordinator of the popular committees in the campaign against the wall and settlements explains that the annexation project is comprehensive and not just about a particular city, it is a fundamental pillar in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.
In the context of the difficult situation sought by the Palestinian people, Al-Salman emphasizes that the leadership and the people must be invited to take to the streets, because the origin of the relationship with the resistance occupation and not the negotiations, as well as the work to achieve reconciliation, must be called upon.


788 dunums threatened with confiscation


Mahmoud al-Saifi, director of the Office of the Land Research Center in Nablus, said the area to be seized for the Israeli industrial zone announced on November 11, 2019 (788 dunums) from the territories of the villages of Shufa and Jabbara, explaining that the Israeli announcement of the industrial zone coincided with u.S. support for settlement in the West Bank.


Al-Saifi states that the 788 dunums are located in designated areas (C), but the occupation claims to be state territory, noting that the occupation now cares about the eastern slopes (the Jordan Valley), as well as the land adjacent to the Green Line, especially in Area C, where there are 198 settlements in the West Bank, 107 of which are on the Green Line.


This explains the importance of establishing the industrial zone south of Tulkarem, as the declared area (C) is adjacent to the green line, Mahmoud al-Saifi said.


Al-Saifi said that the area announced for the industrial zone may expand and include the land of villages classified (C) adjacent to the new settlement project, adding that there are expectations that the area of land that will be added in favor of the industrial zone will be 1500 dunums in addition to the 788 dunums announced.


Mahmoud al-Saifi, director of the Office of the Land Research Center, explains that the industrial zone could be an enclave similar to "Ariel,"volcano" or "assioun."


Settlement swells around The Village of Shufa


In order to learn more about settlement plans in the area south of Tulkarem, anti-settlement activist Murad al-Daroubi said that the settlement sits around the village of Shufa from all sides, through bypass streets, observation towers, communications towers and military ones, as well as the expansion of the settlement of "Effni Hefts" and the establishment of settlement outposts.


Al-Daroubi pointed out that the attacks of the occupation consisted of uprooting trees, preventing their cultivation, razing the land and trying to lay hands on the land claiming that it is "state land", by giving notices of demolition or suspension of construction, the last attack was the destruction of about 200 olive trees.

The area of land threatened with confiscation from the village of Shufa for the industrial zone is about 500, which is common land, but it is registered with the names of families in the village for the purpose of protecting it, he said, stressing that the Wall Authority and the Jerusalem Center were contacted as soon as settlement plans were felt in the village.


Al-Daroubi explains that the environmental aspect may be focused on the issue of refusing to establish the industrial zone before the Israeli courts, part of which will be adjacent to the houses in Izbat Shufa, and the project will contaminate air and groundwater if it is established.


He emphasizes the importance of knowing who sells the land in his village, explaining that "if a person wants to sell his land to another person, he must know who his or her identity is, as well as whether the buyer wants to sell it to someone else so that it does not leak into the occupation," adding that "the original land should not be sold at the moment, especially as the settlers of "Ifni Hefts" try to control the land as well as talk of establishing an industrial zone."


"The settlement act is stronger than the popular action against it, and all that is being done is a reaction that is not commensurate with the magnitude of the act," he said.


"90% of the land to be confiscated for the establishment of the industrial zone is from The Village of Shufa, and 10% is a huge land," said Sofa Fawzat al-Daroubi, chairman of the Village Council.


He explains that the Israeli media announced the industrial zone, and then did not inform the Israeli occupation authorities of this project, pointing out that those concerned from the Palestinian side were informed of what was published in the Israeli media, and there was no reaction from them, and asked to wait until they were officially informed by the Israeli side because they could not move without anything official.


After the Israeli side informed the Palestinian side, the move was carried out against the industrial zone by all concerned, popularly and officially, according to Fawzat al-Daroubi.


The village council chief explains that the residents of Shufa have long suffered from occupation practices as a result of the settlement of Avni Hefts on the village grounds, noting that in recent years the settlers' practices have been frequent, more violent and rapid, because settlers want to make the cultivated land near the settlement barren, and to direct the wastewater coming out of the settlement towards the land to sabotage it.


This is what Tahsin Hamed of The Village of Shufa, who spoke to "Jerusalem".com about the settlers' daily attacks, such as not being allowed to harvest olives and till land and cultivate the land, "but these attacks and harassment by the settlers of Avni Hefts" never prevented our farmers from reaching their land, saying, "We must not be afraid of the settlers' practices, and we must stand before them at every moment."


With regard to the land threatened with confiscation for the Israeli industrial zone in Shufa, retired professor Mohammed Awad Saleh said he learned from the village council that his land had been confiscated for the benefit of the Israeli industrial zone, of which 255 dunums were confiscated, of which 180 dunums were confiscated in the village commons registered in his father's name.
The retired professor went to the Jerusalem Center to help them defend his cause and protect his land, which he told me ,"He will not give an inch of it".


His cousin, Jamal Saleh, explains that his confiscated land is 35 dunums, and his father is a partner in the village commons, and in his name 180 dunums, adding that they only go to their land in a group, because going to someone alone is a risk.

A strategic threat.


From the nearby village of Jabbara, said Abdullah Mahmoud, a lecturer at Istiqlal University, whose house is only separated from the area to be confiscated for the settlement project: the industrial zone to be built at the entrance to Jabbara village is a strategic threat to it and the surrounding villages, explaining that this project cuts off the geographical links between Tulkarem and the Kafriat area.


He explains that the residents of Jabbara, Shufa and Ras villages filed objections against the establishment of the industrial zone project in the Israeli courts through the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, pointing out that the talk is about an industrial zone extending up to "Avni Hefts", "Therefore, the threat is not only about Jabbara, but in every province of Tulkarem."
The attacks in the village were the sending of building prevention notices in the area threatened with confiscation for the benefit of the industrial zone, the demolition of some houses at the entrance to the village, as well as the dredging of agricultural areas.
Mahmoud states that israeli courts, although not trusted, can go to the face of this settlement project, and that it can go to international courts, as it is a matter of stealing Palestinian land and destroying the future of a village.


The lecturer at Istiqlal University focuses on the importance of the resilience of the people and the stabilization of their presence on the land, and not to leave their land empty, pointing out that one of the most important elements of supporting the steadfastness of the citizen in his land is to provide development projects for the village and cultivate land threatened with confiscation for the benefit of the settlement project, and support its owners by giving them projects for their reclamation, especially the waste lands.
Mahmoud said it is important for the official institution to support the village, as it is marginalized and subjected to a harsh experience because of the racist wall, pointing out that these marginalized or small villages are the first front line with the occupation, and in the event of their fall the major cities fall, so they deserve the support of the official institution, such as the project submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture to reclaim land in the village of Jabbara.

Legal objections


The agency went to the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center to talk about the legal objections made by the people of Jabbara, Ras and Shufa, villages affected by the establishment of the Israeli industrial zone.


Wael al-Qat, a lawyer and legal adviser at the Jerusalem Center, said that the industrial zone, or "Stani Hefts", was declared in the Israeli press in November 2019, and this was one of the objections raised, because of the declaration of land In the West Bank, residents and land ownership are related to israeli newspapers and at home, explaining that there was a legal problem in reporting, as the industrial zone announcement was published on the website of the so-called "Civil Administration", and legally in accordance with the Law on The Regulation of Cities Jordanian villages and buildings that are still in force have been drawn up, as it speaks of access even to landowners, if possible, which has not happened.


He explains that the area of the industrial zone is about 800 dunums on the land of the villages of Shufa, Jabbara and Ras, stressing that if the project is implemented, the damage will include other areas, and will increase over 800 dunums, because there are consequences in terms of freedom of movement in the area, and the isolation of south Tulkarem and its impact on the city itself.


Lawyer Wael al-Qat states that agencies were taken from the village councils (Shufa, Jabbara and Ras) in their legal capacity, as well as agencies from most landowners in the three villages up to 27 agencies, in order to challenge the establishment of the industrial zone, because of its impact on the environmental aspect. Land ownership and geographical communication between the city of Tulkarem and its villages, as well as the political impact of strengthening the presence of settlements, on the one hand, and the narrowing of the Palestinian presence, on the other, explaining that objections are discussed before the Supreme Organizing Council and the so-called civil administration in "Beit El", in light of the decision to supplement these objections before the Israeli Supreme Court or the Central Court in Jerusalem, and the first hearing to discuss these objections was scheduled on the date of the next 6 Th.


Lawyer Wael al-Qat explains that the center is following up on 20 files from the village of Shufa about notices of the construction and demolition of other buildings, as well as follow-up 10 files of notices of stop construction and demolition of others, and 7 notices of evacuation of land in the village of Jabbara, and in the village of Al-Ras there is one file related to the suspension of construction, and these notices were sent in parallel with the announcement of the establishment of the Israeli industrial zone.


He points out that prior to the date of the announcement of the industrial zone, the center had previous interventions in Shufa and Jabbara, in the follow-up of individual cases about construction "without a permit", in areas c.


Private land, not "state land"


Lawyer Wael al-Qat pointed out that the owners of these houses received demolition notices or construction suspensions along with issues related to the eviction on the grounds that it is "state land", explaining that areas (c) are not necessarily not all land classified as state land, as well as land (a) and (b), with private land and other financially classified areas as well as tabo areas.


The cat indicates that there was an intervention of the center to stop the demolition of a school not in the heart of the area that was declared confiscated in favour of the settlement project, but beside it, and the Jerusalem Center obtained a permit from the so-called "Civil Administration" of Israel that there was no intention to demolish, considering that this was an achievement, because Jabbara is close to the apartheid wall, and according to claims of occupation, many of its land is declared state land.

The lawyer explained that "the problem is that the land in Shufa, Jabbara and Al-Ras is not registered, i.e. it is not tabo, because in 1968 the occupation issued two military orders, the first providing for the transfer of ownership of the state land that was in the Jordanian era to the occupation, and the second order is to stop the settlements that took place before 1967 in the Jordanian era, pointing out that about 60% of the West Bank is not covered and classified financially (i.e., the proof of ownership is only the removal of the restriction).


"This is not new, and it often began to be talked about in the 1980s by declaring abandoned lands as state land, and this was for legal reasons," he explains.


To further reflect on the issue, lawyer Wael al-Qat explains that in the 1970s the settlements were built by declaring an area to be military, and then the settlements were established on it, and this remained until the case of "Alon Mori" before the Israeli Supreme Court in year 1 979, which prevented the use of security arguments to build a settlement, and later in the 1980s the declarations of "state land", in this way, some 1.2 million dunums were declared in the West Bank as state land for subsequent use of settlement construction.


According to Ottoman land law, "it must be proved that the people of the land declared "state land" have not ceased to be used for three consecutive years, and have been cultivated and cultivated so that no land is abandoned and then (state land)", according to Wael al-Qat.


It is clear that during court hearings, the Israeli side is preparing aerial photographs from the 1990s to show that this land is abandoned, so in land eviction cases, expertise reports from certified certified agricultural engineers and witness testimony from landowners, neighbors and the elderly to prove ownership of their land are not ified, noting that 40% of the land eviction orders issued in the West Bank in 1998 and beyond do not have an earlier legal declaration of land as state land.


"Today there are legal consequences for the Palestinian state after the ratification of international treaties and the accession of the International Criminal Court and international justice, it is a mechanism for resorting to international law to require the exhaustion of domestic appealmethods, i.e. the international court cannot go until the appeal is completed before Israeli or local courts, at least as international law calls it," explains The Jerusalem Center's lawyer and legal adviser.

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