Israeli forces closed a road near Bethlehem in preparation for the demolition of Palestinian property.The Israeli military frequently confiscates land in the West Bank near the illegal separation barrier. On Thursday morning Israeli bulldozers began demolishing structures on privately owned land in Beit Jala, a community near Bethlehem, reports Ma’an News.
Raji Zeidan, the Mayor of Beit Jala, stated months ago that Israeli forces had begun harassing residents of certain neighborhoods. Families living near valuable agricultural land or the illegal settlements are often targeted after Israelis demand room for expansion into the West Bank.
The Shaban family, whose property was occupied this morning by bulldozers and Israeli soldiers, lost their family home in what is now Israel decades ago. They have been living ‘temporarily’ in Dheisha refugee camp ever since but were able to purchase some land in the greater Bethlehem district. Now their land sits between a growing illegal settlement and the city of Beit Jala.
Israeli forces cannot confiscate the land if it is in permanent use. They must first drive landowners away by destroying structures that would otherwise shelter livestock, provide for irrigation, or provide housing for Palestinian residents. The Bethlehem district has already lost nearly 90 percent of its original land claim, which was maintained through the Ottoman and British occupations, the 1947 UN partition and the 1967 armistice line, according to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem.