This morning, Thursday, February 11th, a group of residents from the town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, arrived at the former military base, Osh Grab, to discover that excavation of the site had continued.
The works, carried out by Israeli military engineers, involve the construction of a watchtower, under the auspices of the need for increased security in the area. The residents of Beit Sahour fear that the area will be returned to a full military base, or worse, construction of a settlement will begin.
Settler’s groups, such as ‘Women in Green’ have been lobbying for the construction of a settlement, illegal under international law, on the land; to be named Shdema.
Upon arrival, at 9 a.m., both the residents of Beit Sahour, and the journalists in attendance, were prevented from climbing to the top of the hill, where the former base is situated, as they were informed by the Israeli military that the area had become a closed military zone.
The residents remained at the limits of the closed zone, in protest, until approximately 12:30 p.m., when the group dispersed.
When the base was abandoned, in April 2006, some land reverted to it’s original owners, and the public land was transformed into a community centre and park for locals. The area in question, is the part of the former base that falls inside zone C, as established by the Oslo accords, which is under full control of the Israeli military.
The municipality of Beit Sahour wants to construct a children’s hospital on this site, but has been unable to secure the permission of the Israeli military.