Israeli settler trailers near Nablus (image from Ma'an)

As Israeli extremists invaded the al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday, Israeli settler colonizers also moved into Palestinian areas in several parts of the West Bank. In Hebron, members of a right-wing militia group occupied a Palestinian home in the center of the city; while in Nablus, a dozen trailers were constructed on illegally-seized Palestinian land.

The home in Hebron had initially been taken over by the settler militia group last week, and then on Monday the head of the group, Yossi Dagan, announced that he will be moving his family into the home, ejecting the Palestinian family who owned and had lived in the home for generations.

The Abu Rajab family home in Hebron has been a target of the Israeli settler militia group ‘Homesh First’ for over five years. In 2012, Israeli settler colonizers took over the top two floors of the home, forcing the Abu Rajab family to huddle into the lowest level of their home.

The settlers claimed to have purchased the house, but this claim was never able to be proved in Israeli court. Since that time, the Abu Rajab family has been continually harassed, including having their entrance and exit to the home blocked, being beaten and threatened, having soldiers occupy their home and assist the settler colonizers in their takeover, and having one of the sons of the Abu Rajab family abducted and put into prison without charge for years.

Throughout 2015, Israeli settlers camped outside the home for months, harassing the Abu Rajab family and preventing them from leaving. The family filed six different complaints with the Israeli court system, which eventually ruled in their favor and ordered the settlers to evacuate.

Now, in 2017, the family finds themselves once again filing a complaint with the Israeli police, as the settlers have returned to force them from their home in violation of international and Israeli law.

In the Nablus incident, Israeli settler colonizers set up a dozen trailer homes on land belonging to Palestinian families in the al-Khafafish area of the village of Jalud, in the northern part of the West Bank.

The trailers were installed on Monday, after the land was leveled by Israeli bulldozers two weeks ago in preparation for the new settlement construction.

When the settlement expansion in the area was approved by the Israeli government a month ago, to compensate for the evacuation of the illegal settlement of Amona, the group Americans for Peace Now pointed out, “This is not the first time that the government utilizes a lawful evacuation of an illegal outpost built on private Palestinian lands in order to approve 2 settlements as “compensation.” As part of the evacuation of the Migron outpost, the government established “New Migron” (located close to Kochav Yaakov settlement) as well as a plan for 184 housing units east of Adam settlement (aka Geva Binyamin). Just as in the case of Amona, the settlers of Migron rejected the offer to move to the site east of Adam, and yet the government approved the plan, which is currently under construction.

“Amichai, alongside Shvut Rachel East, enhance the expansion of Shilo settlement eastbound towards the Jordan valley and route number 80 (known as the Alon road). The new settlements are located between Shilo and Shvut Rachel (located to their west) and several illegal outposts: Achiya, Esh Kodesh, Kida and Adei Ad. Hence, the two new settlements are located in a region that serves as focal point of settler land takeover and settler violence, preventing Palestinians from reaching their lands.

“The establishment of Amichai, as well as that of Shvut Rachel East, are a significant blow to the two-state solution. The settlements are located deep in the West Bank and east of route 60, the main highway in the occupied territories. It is impossible to reach a two-state solution without the evacuation of these settlements. Hence, the message that is being conveyed by the government of Israel is that it seeks to heighten its control over the West Bank and that it has no intention of ever evacuating the territories and achieving a political agreement with the Palestinians.”

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics has reported a 70% increase in the rate of Israeli settlement expansion this year in comparison to the previous year.

All Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, as they directly violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring members of its civilian population to land occupied by military force.