Israeli bulldozers levelled private Palestinian lands in the northern occupied West Bank village of Jalud in the Nablus district this morning, a day after the Israeli Knesset moved forward with a bill seeking to retroactively legalise illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank, which would see thousands of dunams of Palestinian lands confiscated.
A Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma’an that several bulldozers escorted by Israeli settlers and troops started to level lands on the eastern outskirts of Jalud “without prior notice”.
More than 40 dunams (0.04 square kilometres) of land belonging to the family of Ahmad Nasser Al-Hajj were levelled, Daghlas added.
The illegal Israeli settlement outpost Esh Kodesh is located only a few hundred metres away from the area.
Daghlas said that the Al-Hajj family tried to access the land yesterday to plough it, but that Israeli forces denied them access, confiscating the keys of the tractors they had brought with them.
The Al-Hajjs said that they had not received any documents from the Israeli government regarding a decision to confiscate their land.
However, residents in Jalud were alerted on April 23 that 5,000 dunams (5 square kilometres) of private land were slated for confiscation, in what appeared to be the retroactive legalisation of illegal outposts in the area. It was not immediately clear if the land levelled today was on the same lands threatened with confiscation in April. In May, Israeli settler bulldozers razed lands in Jalud as well.
A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.
The land levelling came as the Knesset passed a preliminary reading of the “formalisation bill” yesterday, which would see thousands of dunams of privately-owned Palestinian land seized and dozens of illegal Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank retroactively legalised.
While the law initially gained traction among Israeli ministers and lawmakers seeking to avoid the imminent evacuation of residents of the Amona outpost, the revised version of the bill that passed yesterday does not apply to Amona as it has already been ordered to be demolished by 25 December by the Israeli Supreme Court.