2021-10-10 22:22:15 Palestinian village target of settler attacks and land theft | Israel-Palestine conflict

Palestinian village target of settler attacks and land theft | Israel-Palestine conflict.

Bethlehem, West Bank Occupied – In recent months, the small Palestinian village of Kisan, nestled atop the rugged, picturesque hills of the occupied West Bank, has faced increased Israeli land theft and settler attacks.

Kisan, located about 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Bethlehem, is surrounded by several illegal Israeli settlements and outposts, including Ma’ale Amos, Mizpe Shalem, and Abei Hanahal, which were built on large tracts of private Palestinian land expropriated by Israel.

According to the Wall and Settlements Resistance Commission, Israel announced weeks ago that it would seize hundreds of hectares of village land in the southeast to turn into a “nature reserve.”

According to local media, the Israeli army informed the village in May that new settlement units would be built on lands west of the village, after which settlers began razing the land. Residents reported in late June that 20 mobile homes for settlers had been set up in the area, which was estimated to be more than 50 dunams (5 hectares).

On a daily basis, the town’s 600 residents face violence at the hands of Israeli settlers who live nearby, with a number of children injured on roads by settlers who deliberately target them. According to Israeli media, settlers accuse Palestinian children of throwing stones at them.

“It’s scary walking to and from school because there are always problems,” one student, Muhammad Ata Abiat, told Al Jazeera.

Looking down the valley from Layla Ghazzal’s balcony, the Abei Hanahal outpost on the next hilltop can be seen. Her family, which includes ten children aged five to 25, has been subjected to the violence of settlers descended from the outpost.

“Last year, my son Muhammad, 20, was on his way to work at his construction site nearby when he was attacked in the evening by four settlers,” Layla told Al Jazeera.

“They tried to stab him in the head, and when he put up his arm to defend himself, his arm was slashed, and he had to go to the hospital for stitches,” she explained.

“Around the same time, another 16-year-old boy, Bilal Said, was run over by a settler car, breaking his leg.”

According to the most recent humanitarian report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there have been 11 Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian civilians since September 7. So far in 2021, 290 settler attacks on Palestinians have resulted in property damage and 93 attacks have resulted in casualties.

Residents of Kisan reported that settlers from Abei Hanahal uprooted 50 olive seedlings in early September. Settler violence is also directed at Palestinians who attempt to cultivate their agricultural fields.

“We never know when the next settler attack will happen,” Ibrahim Ghazzal, the brother of Kisan’s Deputy Mayor Ahmed Ghazzal, told Al Jazeera.

A month ago, settlers attacked Hussein Abiat and his sons while they were inspecting a plot of land they had rented from its Palestinian owner for cultivation.

“They were beaten on their heads, arms, and legs, causing bleeding and fractures, and they had to be taken to hospital and kept for five days,” Ahmed told Al Jazeera.

confiscation of land

According to the Land Research Centre, a Palestinian organization that monitors, supports, and protects Palestinian land, Israel has expropriated thousands of dunums of land in Kisan village over the years.

The occupied West Bank was divided into three areas under the 1993 Oslo Accords: Area C, which comprises 60% of the occupied territory and is under full Israeli control, Area B, which is under joint Palestinian and Israeli control, and Area A, which is administered by the Palestinian Authority.

The accords were only supposed to be in effect for five years before the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Approximately 11% of Kisan was designated as a nature reserve, 40% was placed under Palestinian administration and Israeli security control, and the remainder was designated as Area C or full Israeli control.

According to the Israeli rights organization B’Tselem, Israel’s West Bank planning and construction policy is aimed at preventing Palestinian development and dispossessing Palestinians of their land.

“Israel views Area C as being there to serve its own needs, such as military training, economic interests, and settlement development,” according to the group.

“Israel effectively prohibits Palestinian construction and development, ignoring Palestinian needs.” Simultaneously, it promotes the growth of Israeli settlements through a parallel planning mechanism, and the Civil Administration ignores settlers’ building violations.”

As Israel continues to expropriate land in the West Bank at a rapid pace, expanding existing settlements, authorizing new outposts, and turning a blind eye to settlers establishing new caravans on Palestinian land, Palestinians living in Area C find it nearly impossible to obtain the necessary building permits from Israeli authorities for any construction.

Any Palestinian infrastructure built without these permits is almost daily destroyed by the Civil Administration, a branch of the military that controls the majority of the West Bank.

According to B’Tselem, this is part of a larger political agenda to maximize the use of West Bank resources for Israeli needs while reducing the amount of land available to Palestinians.

“While planning and building laws benefit Jewish communities by regulating development and balancing different needs, when applied to Palestinian communities in the West Bank, they serve the exact opposite purpose… There, Israel uses the law to obstruct development, stymie planning, and carry out demolitions.”

Back on Layla’s balcony, she stated that it is “particularly scary at night.”

“We are all terrified of what will happen to our land and the safety of our children.”

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Palestinian village target of settler attacks and land theft | Israel-Palestine conflict