Israeli authorities announced Sunday a new plan to isolate over 7000
dunums of Palestinian land in the Bethlehem and Hebron areas in
preparation for the continuation of the Wall and the construction of a
'Jews-only' road which will carve through the south of West Bank.
The new 'Jews-only' road will run virtually parallel to the existing road, linking the Gush Etzion settlement block Karmel settlement in the South and land occupied by Israel since 1948. Israel has been seeking international funding since 2004 for 52 such 'Jews-only' roads totalling 500 kilometers.
Military orders confiscating 152 dunums of land were handed out in the towns of Um Salamuna, Beit Fajjar and Beit Ummar on 7th September to allow a 6.6km continuation of the wall around the Gush Etzion settlement block. A military terminal will be built in south west Bethlehem at Um Salamuna.
A further 7,200 dunums of land belonging to surrounding Palestinian towns are to be isolated behind the wall or destroyed by its footprint.
The affected towns are totally dependent on the land for their income, according to local sources. In Um Salamuna the wall will isolate 200 dunums of land behind the wall uproot more than 800 olive trees bearing fruit, 1500 grape vines and a large number of almond trees and other pine trees. Seven extended families from the town are entirely dependent on this land.
In Beit Fajar, the wall will isolate 1000 dunums, planted with grapes, olive trees and almonds. One resident said:
“This land will be annexed to Migdal Oz settlement and the owners are forbidden to access their land, and especially the soldiers and settlers have tried many times to buy the land, but the people refused to sell it, so they decided to take it using the wall.”
In Beit Ummar the footprint of the wall will destroy 715 dunums south of the town. Alterations to the route of the wall mean that it will now isolate 6000 dunums of farmland, rather than the original 5000. Again the land is richly planted with grape vines, olive trees and almonds. A further 750 dunums from is to be confiscated from to the south of the town for the construction of the new apartheid road.
In the last two months occupation forces have begun uprooting land to the south of the town in order expand Karme Tzur settlement. The settlement is to be surrounded by an electrified fence annexing a further 450 dunums.