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Occupation magazine - Settlements

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New Settlement Activity in Southern Bethlehem Area

By Tania Kepler for the AIC

On the afternoon of Monday, 11 October, an Israeli army bulldozer damaged land belonging to Palestinian farmer Raed Taqatqa of the Bait Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem. Immediately after leveling the land, the soldiers brought and set up one mobile home, apparently to be used by settlers.

The land is located near the main road that links the village with Alma`sara and Om Salamouna, two nearby villages to the north.

According to Taqatqa this land was the previous target of settlers, but he was able to bring the case to the Israeli Supreme Court, which decided that he is the owner of the land and can therefore can work and plant it.

In the last few days, Taqatqa noticed settlers repeatedly visiting the site and on Monday the army leveled it and brought the caravan. He tried to enter his legal property but the soldiers guarding the caravan stopped him. According to local village sources, it seems the settlers want to build a new outpost there.

This event came only one day after some 200 armed Israeli settlers began constructing a new outpost on the agricultural lands of the Al-Khader village, Sunday morning 10 October. The settlers forced the Ghnaim family from their land and used bulldozers to begin digging.

The village is located 5 kilometers west of Bethlehem in the West Bank, and the site of the new outpost is very close to the Navi Daniel settlement, south of the village. It is unclear whether the settlers plan to start a new outpost or expand the existing settlement.

Al-Khader, like many other towns in the area, already lost several thousand dunams of agricultural land when Israels Separation Wall was built using the lands of the historic village and cutting farmers from their land. Residents can now only access their expropriated land with a permit from the Israeli military.

Settler construction began immediately after the settlement freeze expired two weeks ago. As settlers aggressively renewed their building efforts, more land theft and violence against the local Palestinian communities is likely to occur.

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