Palestinian farmers and villagers living around the occupied West Bank city of Salfit fear their land is being bulldozed by Israel as part of a project to construct a railway between Tel Aviv and the illegal settlement of Ariel.
The locals of Kafr Ad-Dik, Bruqin, Haris, Kufl Haris, Sarta and Qarawat Bani Hassan said that infrastructure works have been eating away at their agricultural land for over ten days.
Farmer Hamad Khatir, from Bruqin, told the Safa press agency that a number of bulldozers have been razing areas that lie a few metres away from his home. He said that the villagers believe that plans for the railway project have been ongoing for a long time.
Bruqin’s council head said more than 8,000 dunums (8 square kilometres) have been surrounded by newly constructed routes.
Researcher Khalid Ma’ali said: “The fears of the residents of Salfit’s western villages are justified.”
He noted that, a few days ago, the Netanyahu government announced plans to implement a railway project linking the Tel Aviv’s metropolitan area with the second largest settlement in the occupied West Bank, Ariel, which contains a university with about 25,000 students, and an industrial zone.
“What is happening in Salfit is an act of intensive settlement activity unprecedented in West Bank areas other than the occupied city of Jerusalem.” He added, warning that the expanding construction further isolates Palestinian villages.