Bulldozers operated by Israeli occupation forces have razed swathes of Palestinian land, including farms planted with well-established olive trees, around the city of Salfit in the occupied West Bank, Quds Press reported on Sunday. According to researcher Khalid Maali, the land belonged to the Islamic Awqaf (religious endowment) authorities.
The expert in settlement issues explained that the Israeli bulldozers targeted land in the area known locally as Khellat Al-Jamei. Part of this area has already been developed by Israeli settlers to build a factory in the Ariel Industrial Zone, part of the illegal Ariel settlement bloc.
Israel claims that this area is state land. Maali said that the Palestinian Ministry of Awqaf had tried several times to restore it, but the Israelis rejected the requests and cracked down on activities on the ground. He pointed out that the Palestinian residents of are being targeted directly by the Israeli occupation forces and settlers, noting that they do not have enough official and popular support to be able to defend their land.
Salfit is important for Israel's illegal Jewish settlers, Maali pointed. The area contains more than 25 illegal settlement blocs which the occupation authorities are planning to expand.
Maali concluded by noting that the Israeli judicial system provides a legal fig leaf for the settlers' activities in the Salfit area, which is one of the most damaged of Palestinian cities.