Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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November 4, 2022
- Apartheid in action: Israel proceeds with plan to cut off Al Walajah from lands & water source
- In Response to Settler Violence in Hebron, IDF punishes Palestinians — Declares Issa Amro’s Home and surrounding area a “Closed Military Zone”
- Israel Seizes More Land to Expand Eli Settlement
- Settler Terrorism Visualized in New Infographic
- Bonus Reads
Apartheid in action: Israel proceeds with plan to cut off Al Walajah from lands & water source
Ir Amim reports that the Jerusalem Municipality allocated NIS 3 million to implement its plan to relocate a key IDF checkpoint leading to the Palestinian village of Al-Walajah, a village which is located on (and partially within) the southern perimeter of Jerusalem’s expanded municipal borders. The effort to move the checkpoint closer to the built-up area of Al-Walajah is part of the Israeli government’s long running effort to take control over an increasing amount of land – and importantly, the Ein Haniya spring – that historically belongs to Al-Walajah. Israel’s plan to relocate the checkpoint has been frozen for the past four years, after a petition against the plan filed by residents of Al-Waljah was rejected by the Israeli courts. Now it appears to be proceeding. Ir Amim explains what is happening behind the scenes:
“According to Ir Amim’s initial inquiries, no building permit necessary for the relocation and construction of the new checkpoint appears to currently exist. The Finance Committee’s agenda cited that the checkpoint’s relocation is being carried out at the request of the Jerusalem Municipality, Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, and the Israel Police. However, the checkpoint constitutes a military facility–the location of which should be determined by the Israeli army. Yet, the army is not among the Israeli bodies requesting its relocation; therefore, claims stating that such a measure is necessary for “security reasons” can be interpreted as unsubstantiated. If the checkpoint is relocated, it will have dire consequences on the residents of al-Walaja, their agricultural lands, and their livelihoods.”
By relocating the checkpoint to a point closer to Al-Walajah, Palestinians from the village will no longer have unfettered access to approximately 1200 dunams of agricultural land, including the site of the Ein Haniya springs. The Ein Al-Hanya spring, which the Jerusalem Municipality declared a national park in 2013 and then spent years and millions of dollars renovating into a tourist destination, is located on land historically part of Al-Walajah and it long served as a main source of water for households, farms, and recreational purposes for the village’s residents. Ir Amim explains this model of land seizure, writing:
“The designation of areas as national parks, nature reserves, and/or green spaces is a common Israeli practice in East Jerusalem used to alter the character of the space, fracture the Palestinian environs, and suppress Palestinian urban planning, while allowing for the seizure of their lands for Israeli interests.”
Since 1967, Al-Walajah has suffered due to its location and its complicated status (much of the village’s lands, including areas with homes, were annexed by Israel in 1967, but Israel never gave the villagers Jerusalem legal residency by Israel – meaning that under Israeli law, their mere presence in their homes is illegal). Today it is acutely suffering from a multi-prong effort by the Israeli government and settlers to grab more land for settlement expansion in pursuit of the “Greater Jerusalem” agenda. This land grab campaign includes home demolitions (four homes in Al-Walajah were demolished by Israel on November 2, 2022, for example), the construction of the separation barrier and bypass roads in a way that seals off the village on three sides, and the systematic denial of planning permits.
In Response to Settler Violence in Hebron, IDF punishes Palestinians — Declares Issa Amro’s Home and surrounding area a “Closed Military Zone”
On October 31st, the IDF has declared the immediate area around the home of prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro to be a “closed military zone” – an order which prevents the operations of Amro’s community organization, Youth Against Settlements, which operates partially out of Amro’s home. Under the order, Amro is the only person permitted to enter the house.
The order was issued after Amro made three attempts to file a complaint with Israeli police in Hebron regarding one particularly violent attack by settlers, parts of which were caught on video. Police turned Amro away. In a video message explaining the situation, Amro says that the closure order follows years of settlers trying to take over his home, which is located in the heart of downtown Hebron, sandwiched between settlement enclaves.
Michael Sfard, a prominent Israeli human rights lawyer representing Amro, wrote a letter to the Israeli army requesting a criminal investigation into the officer who issued the closure order, saying the order is:
“so arbitrary that there is no doubt that [it was not the product of] good faith or a mistake in judgment but rather signed with the knowledge that it was not directed at the person who has been disturbing the peace and was meant to satisfy the thugs who had initiated the attacks and ‘friction.’”
Israel Seizes More Land to Expand Eli Settlement
On October 31st, Wafa News reports that the Israeli army issued a military order seizing 152 acres of land belonging to the Palestinian villages of Qaryout and al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya (near Nablus) in order to expand the Eli settlement. No further details were reported.
Settler Terrorism Visualized in New Infographic
Visualizing Palestine published a superb new graphic that communicates the severity and totality of escalating settler terrorism targeting Palestinians and their property.
- “Britain Scraps Plan to Move Embassy to Jerusalem” (Haaretz)