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Israel official declares West Bank plot ‘state land’, then builds illegal outpost on it

A general view of an Israeli settlement in Nablus, West Bank [Wagdi Eshtayah/Apaimages]
A general view of an Israeli settlement in Nablus, West Bank [Wagdi Eshtayah/Apaimages]

An employee of Israel’s Civil Administration – the Defence Ministry-run body which manages the day to day affairs of the military occupation – declared a plot of land in the occupied West Bank to be state land and “after leaving his job, set up an illegal outpost on it”, reported Haaretz.

The settlement outpost, located in the Gush Etzion bloc of colonies south of Jerusalem, “now contains a farm and a guesthouse”, the paper notes, whose profits “go to a company established by the former Civil Administration employee, Yossi Levitt”.

The outpost, Tzurei Ye’elim, “was built entirely without permits”. A demolition order was issued against one of its buildings but has never been carried out.

Read: Israel Supreme Court told that settlements law violates apartheid convention

According to Haaretz, “the Civil Administration declared this land state land on November 24, 2013, and the outpost was established in 2014”. Aerial photographs show that Levitt began building the outpost immediately after he resigned from the Civil Administration.

A Civil Administration planning official confirmed that Levitt was the official responsible for declaring the site to be state land.

According to the official, “even though the outpost is illegal, it could potentially be legalised because it’s located on state land”, and, “since the outpost is within the jurisdiction of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, the Civil Administration has no power to demolish it”.

#LandGrab

“Only the regional council can do that, and it supports the outpost,” the report adds. “It even solicits donations for Tzurei Ye’elim on its website.”

“Yossi Levitt is a product of the corrupt symbiosis between large portions of the Civil Administration and the settlers,” said Dror Etkes of anti-settlement group Kerem Navot.

“This symbiosis shows how deep the rot runs in this agency, which pretends to be professional when in fact it’s a violent agency that Israel uses to take control of Palestinian lands in the West Bank.”

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