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Israel builds new Jew-only road and steals more Palestinian land

February 25, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Israeli security forces block the road near Ariel Israeli settlement located in Salfit, West Bank on 7 October 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israel is building yet another bypass road for use by Jewish settlers only and, yet again, it is stealing Palestinian land to do so. The land in question is in Huwwara, to the south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

The 7-kilometre road will start from the village of Zaatara and pass through land owned by Palestinians in Huwwara, Beita and Odala. Until now, the access route in the area has been shared by Palestinians and Jewish settlers — whose presence is illegal under international law — who often use it to raid and terrorise the residents of the local villages.

Since the Israeli government decided to build the road last April, it has led to the seizure of more than 40 hectares of land from the surrounding Palestinian villages. According to Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of the settlements file in the northern West Bank, Israeli bulldozers have been razing everything on the land near a military checkpoint outside Huwwara.

The plans for the bypass of the village have been in the pipeline for years, although local activist Ghassan Najjar insists that the locals have been kept in the dark until a few days ago.

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A 2019 report from settlement watchdog Peace Now said that the bypass is intended to serve four settlements — Yitzhar, Itamar, Har Brakha and Elon Moreh — which are home to a total of 7,132 settlers.

According to organisation, the construction of bypass roads under the pretext of security is a “tactical” way of masking the real goal behind these roads, which is “To expand the settlements and to advance plans for annexing the West Bank at the cost of a two-state solution.”

Despite the increase of such illegal developments, settlers from the right-wing group Regavim, which campaigns for the demolition of Palestinian villages, last night placed signs at 33 different points across the occupied West Bank reading, “Stop! You are entering the State of Palestine”. The locations seem to have been chosen based upon the Trump “peace plan”.

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Representatives of Regavim complained that Trump’s “deal of the century” will allow “Route 60, the central route in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] that links communities to Jerusalem, to be transferred almost entirely to the Palestinians.” It also warned that this “is a catastrophe and must not be accepted,” reported Israeli news site Arutz Sheva.

“This is just another case of Israel stealing Palestinian land in order to benefit the settlers,” added Najjar. “It’s plain and simple.” With the construction of the new bypass, he anticipates that the security situation for Palestinians could actually get worse.