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Days after Palestinian family evicted, Israel settlers move in to West Bank land

Jewish settlers surround an agricultural field of Palestinians' after seizing it to start an illegal construction at Beit Jala neighborhood in Bethlehem, West Bank on 3 September 2019. [Wisam Hashlamoun - Anadolu Agency]
Jewish settlers surround an agricultural field of Palestinians' after seizing it to start an illegal construction at Beit Jala neighborhood in Bethlehem, West Bank on 3 September 2019. [Wisam Hashlamoun - Anadolu Agency]

Just a few days after Israeli occupation forces expelled a Palestinian family from land in the southern occupied West Bank, an unauthorised settler outpost was established there, reported Haaretz.

Last month, Israeli authorities carried out the eviction of the Cassia family near Beit Jala, demolishing their home and a restaurant they had been operating on the same site.

The land is located in Area C of the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians are systematically denied construction permits by Israeli occupation authorities.

In this case, however, a further element was at play, since Himnuta – a Jewish National Fund (JNF) subsidiary – claimed ownership of the land and sought to expedite the demolitions.

This claim is disputed by the Cassia family who, for now, are living in a tent near their former home while the ownership battle plays out in the courts.

READ: Why ‘moderates’ don’t have a clue what to do about Israel’s settlements 

However, just days after the expulsion, according to Haaretz, “a group of Jews came to a plot adjacent to where the house and restaurant had stood and began working the land.”

“A short time later, they erected temporary buildings that in practice turned the site into an unauthorized residential outpost,” the report added.

Officially, the JNF has acknowledged immediately leasing the land to the nearby Neve Daniel settlement for “agricultural use”.

However, “no permits have ever been issued for the construction of buildings at the site”, and thus even under Israeli regulations, the settlers’ structures are illegal.

Peace Now expressed dismay at the developments. “The establishment of a new outpost 70 meters (230 feet) from the Palestinian home that was destroyed under pressure from the JNF lets the cat out of the bag,” the group stated.

“It turns out that when JNF demanded that the Cassia family’s home be demolished, it didn’t care if illegal construction was carried out on its land, but it didn’t want Palestinians to build on its land.”

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