Despite its illegality, the Israeli Army and the Aviation Department do not seem bothered by an illegal small airstrip established by a former Air Force pilot who lives in the Alumot illegal outpost, near the Itamar illegal settlement in the West Bank district of Nablus.Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the airstrip was the idea by a settler identified as, Yedidya Meshulami, who settled in the area in 1996.
According to Haaretz, an Israeli government report on settlements said that the airstrip, dubbed as “The Pilot’s Hill”, was built in part on lands that are dubbed by Israel as “state land”, while other parts are on privately owned Palestinian lands.
The settler is also a shepherd who makes and sells cheeses, and who decided a few months ago to build a runway. Last week, he started preparing the hanger to store a used ultra-light plane he bought for the amount of NIS 80,000 (around $21,662).
Haaretz also reported that Meshulami has also been periodically using his light plan to fly all around the occupied West Bank.
Israeli aviation regulations do not allow light planes to fly in the occupied West Bank, as planes flying over the territories must fly at an altitude of at least 8,000 feet; an altitude too high for such a plane.
The second violation and contradiction is that this runway has not been approved by Israel, and the government does not seem concerned by it at this stage. Furthermore, within the 1948 territory, all Israelis need a permit in order to be allowed to build an airstrip, but this airstrip is in a settlement in the occupied West Bank where Israel’s Airport Authority has no operations.
Haaretz also reported that all hilltop settlements, illegal under the law, surrounding the Itamar settlement, became areas described as the “Wild West of settlements”, as they have no organized or unified leadership or spokespersons, and the Israeli Civil Administration Office that operates in the occupied West Bank “stopped trying to enforce the law in these areas.”
The Israeli paper asked the Civil Administration office about the issue, and about what type of action it would take regarding the illegal airstrip; the office only stated that “it’s handling it”.