Israel to move checkpoint deeper into West Bank, cutting off Palestinian access to spring

Israel/Palestine
on 23 Comments

Residents in al-Walaja are well versed in Israeli planning law. The small village has been in legal battles against Israel’s separation wall, land confiscation and home demolitions for decades. This week Israeli authorities added another battle to the ongoing lists of obstacles faced by the rural village.

On Nov. 12, Israeli forces issued notices to Palestinians living in the area that the closest Israeli military checkpoint to the village, one of the two checkpoints between the Bethlehem district and Jerusalem, will be moved further into the West Bank, annexing more of al-Walaja land.

According to the notices, residents have 15 days to challenge the order.

Firas al-Atrash, a member of the Local Council of al-Walaja, told Mondoweiss that moving the checkpoint according to Israel’s plans would have devastating effects on the farming village.

“Moving the checkpoint means that the Israel will take over around 1200 dunams (296 acres) of the land village, and prevent landowners to from accessing their land located behind the wall, including the Ein Al-Haniya spring and archaeological site,” al-Atrash said.

The BADIL Research Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee rights released a statement on the announcement of the checkpoint move, emphasizing the significance of the Ein al-Haniya spring as “an important natural resource and source of water for the residents of the village of al-Walaja.”

BADIL also added that moving the checkpoint, a de facto land confiscation, is “an additional step towards the annexation of the West Bank by Israel.”

“Establishing this new fact on the ground would place all the lands located between the future and current location of the checkpoint under full Israeli control. Under international law, it is prohibited for the occupying power to assume sovereignty over occupied territory and to incorporate it into its own state,” BADIL said.

Al-Atrash said the villagers of al-Walaja have already started moving forward to challenge the plans in the court, adding that there are rumors that the land to be confiscated will be turned into a national park.

Several Israeli authorities were contacted for statements on the issue, but did not respond with comment.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, the practice of establishing new national parks is often used by Israeli authorities to stop any future construction on land.

“No construction is allowed in national parks,” a B’Tselem report on the creation of national parks in Jerusalem states. “Therefore, declaring areas as national parks serves as a means of restricting construction and development of Palestinian neighborhoods.”

According to BADIL, confiscating Palestinian land in order to create a national park is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and a “grave breach” of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“The seizure of property by the occupying power is only permissible under strict criteria: that the seizure is absolutely necessary for military operations,” the group said in a statement.

Al-Atrash stressed that the most recent notices given to people in al-Walaja is just one of many battles challenging by residents.

“Al-Walaja faces massive attacks from Israeli soldiers,” al-Atrash said. “Home demolitions notices, actual demolitions, no building permits, arrests, land confiscation, the separation wall — the village is always under attack.”

During the Nakba in 1948, al-Walaja residents lost three-quarters of their land to invading Israeli forces. Today, many of the descendents of people from al-Walaja live in refugee camps in Bethlehem, while those who live in the village of al-Walaja actually live on a neighboring hill. The hill is part of al-Walaja’s original land, but not where the majority of the pre-1948 village stood.

In addition, al-Walaja is hemmed in by Israel’s separation wall in the seam zone (areas east of the Green Line and west of the separation barrier). There is only one road in or out of the village, and that entrance is shared by the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo — the entrance of which has so many security apparatuses it looks more like a prison compound that a residential community. Two other illegal Israeli settlements surround the village on the near horizon.

 

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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23 Responses

  1. JosephA
    November 17, 2017, 11:47 pm

    Sheren, thanks for providing this painful but necessary report.

  2. Brewer
    November 18, 2017, 1:57 am

    And so it goes – ethnic cleansing by unrelenting pressure, incremental theft. How anyone can imagine it is not a deliberate policy of expelling the indigenous people is beyond my comprehension.
    But then most do not know.
    How did that come about?
    How is it that some of the wealthiest, most influential people in this World support this dastardly enterprise?
    It will end but it will not end well.

    • Jack Green
      November 18, 2017, 1:51 pm

      Brewer

      You are accusing Israel of expelling Palestinians, but other people accuse Israel of keeping Palestinians in an open air prison. Who’s right?

      • Brewer
        November 18, 2017, 3:15 pm

        Both. They are not mutually exclusive.

        Now I have answered your question, how ’bout answering mine:
        Jack.
        “If you are just taking back your own land, that’s not stealing.”
        I am sure the police would agree with you but first they would want to see some proof of ownership. What do you or your fellow Zionists have Jack? Can any of you point to a plot of land and truthfully state that this is where my ancestors lived? How do you know that they did not sell that plot before departing? Bear in mind that few Historians believe that there was a general expulsion of Jews around 70 AD.
        In fact, the so-called “diaspora” began much earlier:

        “As early as the middle of the 2nd century BCE the Jewish author of the third book of the Oracula Sibyllina addressed the “chosen people,” saying: “Every land is full of thee and every sea.” The most diverse witnesses, such as Strabo, Philo, Seneca, Luke (the author of the Acts of the Apostles), Cicero, and Josephus, all mention Jewish populations in the cities of the Mediterranean basin. See also History of the Jews in India and History of the Jews in China for pre-Roman (and post-) diasporic populations.” – Wikipedia.

        Let me now quote Israel Bartal, Avraham Harman Professor of Jewish History, and the former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Hebrew University. Since 2006 he is the chair of the Historical Society of Israel.
        “No “nationalist” Jewish historian has ever tried to conceal the well-known fact that conversions to Judaism had a major impact on Jewish history in the ancient period and in the early Middle Ages. Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions. Important groups in the Jewish national movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely…….
        ,,,,,,The central book of the Zionist “Jerusalem School,” “Toldot am yisrael” (“History of the Jewish People,” published in 1969), speaks extensively of the Jewish communities that existed in the Diaspora before the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and whose total population exceeded that of the tiny Jewish community in Palestine. As one would expect from a work that reflects a profound knowledge of scholarly studies in the field, the Zionist “Toldot am yisrael” explains that the number of Jews in the Diaspora during the ancient period was as high as it was because of conversion, a phenomenon that “was widespread in the Jewish Diaspora in the late Second Temple period …. Many of the converts to Judaism came from the gentile population of Palestine, but an even greater number of converts could be found in the Jewish Diaspora communities in both the East and the West “

        https://web.archive.org/web/20090416045211/http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/999386.html

        My question to you is, which group retain title to real estate and which do your ancestors belong to?
        Jews who migrated of their own accord?
        Converts to Judaism?
        Rebels who were taken as slaves by the Romans?

        Do you know? Any Land Court in a sane society would surely need to know before issuing judgment.
        http://mondoweiss.net/2017/11/palestinians-recovered-emergency/#comment-897444

      • John O
        November 18, 2017, 3:52 pm

        @Jack Green

        Gaza is the open air prison. Anywhere else where Israel rules over non-Jewish people is where they try to expel them. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      • Jack Green
        November 18, 2017, 11:26 pm

        John O

        Why would Israel try to keep Palestinians in Gaza?

        How many Palestinians have been expelled from the West Bank & where did they go?

      • Jack Green
        November 18, 2017, 11:52 pm

        Brewer

        There were earlier expulsions.

        Converts were completely accepted into the Jewish people.
        It’s like adoption. If a couple adopts a child that child will have the same inheritance rights as the couple’s children who were not adopted.

        Why would “Rebels who were taken as slaves by the Romans” result in loss of inheritance?

        Jews who migrated of their own accord & Jews who sold their plot before departing would not be entitled to inheritance, but over the years they’ve mixed with descendants of Jews who did not leave of their own accord.

        Even if we had perfect records, there’s a problem in saying that this plot of land belongs to a particular individual. Imagine a couple that owns Plot A 2,000 years ago. Suppose they had 2 children. Each child inherits only half of Plot A. Suppose another couple owns Plot B & also has 2 children. Each child owns only half of Plot B. If a child of Plot A marries a child of Plot B, each of their children will own half of Plot A & half of Plot B. After thousands of years, each descendant will own a thousandth of a thousand plots. The solution is to say that the land belongs to the government of Israel which is the representative of the Jewish people & let the government decide how best to use the land.

      • Mooser
        November 19, 2017, 1:11 pm

        “My question to you is, which group retain title to real estate and which do your ancestors belong to?”

        Hold on. In order to retain the rights, they would need to breed only within that particular group of Jews.
        At any rate, the deserving recipients should be easy to spot.

      • Brewer
        November 20, 2017, 2:12 am

        You might have a point Mooser. Is myopia a symptom? It seems Jack has paid a visit and failed to see my question. At least I assume he didn’t see it. If he had he would have answered would he not?

      • John O
        November 20, 2017, 7:25 am

        @Jack Green

        Good questions, Jack. Perhaps you can answer them better than I. Why does Israel control Gaza’s borders by land, sea and air? Why does Israel sink Gazan fishing boats? Kill little boys playing football on a beach with naval gunfire? Intercept ships bringing aid to Gaza on the high seas, killing people on board? Have an East German style death strip on the Gazan side of the border?

        I said, “try to expel”. To that end, they make life as difficult as possible for the indigenous population of the West Bank. Now, why would they do that?

      • amigo
        November 20, 2017, 11:16 am

        “You are accusing Israel of expelling Palestinians.” jacko

        Are you claiming other wise ??.

      • John O
        November 20, 2017, 12:15 pm

        @Jack Green

        “After thousands of years, each descendant will own a thousandth of a thousand plots. The solution is to say that the land belongs to the government of Israel which is the representative of the Jewish people & let the government decide how best to use the land.”

        An interesting idea, Jack. Try it out where you live and let us know what happens.

      • Mooser
        November 20, 2017, 1:55 pm

        “After thousands…/… use the land.”

        Oh BTW, when did “the Jewish people” vote to turn over their rights in the land to the Zionists? Not to mention their rights to Judaism.

  3. Brewer
    November 20, 2017, 3:19 pm

    Jack. Took you a while. Was consultation necessary?

    “There were earlier expulsions.”
    Tell us about them. You obviously disagree with one of Israel’s foremost Historians: “Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions.”

    “It’s like adoption. If a couple adopts a child that child will have the same inheritance rights as the couple’s children who were not adopted.”
    Quite possibly – if such inheritance rights existed. You are begging the question. Can you point to any codified law or precedent for such rights applying to any person or people by virtue of their unsubstantiated claim to be a member of a race or religion. My native land (NZ) is a World leader in the restoration of indigenous land rights:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waitangi_Tribunal
    ……yet the process of identification of both individual and land ownership is both rigorous and specific.

    “Why would “Rebels who were taken as slaves by the Romans” result in loss of inheritance?”
    Didn’t suggest that they did. If such inheritance rights existed, they would quite possibly be first in line. The fact is they don’t and neither you nor any of your fellow Zionists has the first clue as to your descent from slaves, converts, slave-masters, collaborators, Zealots, Turkomen, landowners, tinkers, tailors, soldiers or sailors.

    “Jews who migrated of their own accord & Jews who sold their plot before departing would not be entitled to inheritance, but over the years they’ve mixed with descendants of Jews who did not leave of their own accord.”
    You have some evidence of this? Point me to it.

    “Even if we had perfect records, there’s a problem in saying that this plot of land belongs to a particular individual. “
    Precisely, which is exactly why the laws concerning inheritance simply do not apply.
    “If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse. …”
    – Eric Fromm.

    • Mooser
      November 20, 2017, 5:07 pm

      “It’s like adoption. If a couple adopts a child that child will have the same inheritance rights as the couple’s children who were not adopted.”

      Exactly! In much the same way that a Jewish Zionist family cannot disinherit their child for being anti-Zionist, even if the family is certain their assets will be used for anti-Zionist purposes.

    • Jack Green
      November 21, 2017, 8:39 pm

      Brewer

      What if it were impossible to say for sure which people deserved land?

      Suppose there was history, but no exact records, & DNA that showed mixture.

      Would you decide that a terrible crime had been committed, but we’re not going to return land , because we might give land to someone who might not deserve it
      Or
      would you decide that its better to return land even if some of the people who get land don’t deserve it?

      • Brewer
        November 22, 2017, 1:24 am

        Jack.
        The “crime” you refer to is regarded by the foremost Historian of Israel as a myth. Did you not read the words of Israel Bartal, Avraham Harman Professor of Jewish History, former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Hebrew University and the chair of the Historical Society of Israel.
        I shall put them in bold type this time:
        “Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions. Important groups in the Jewish national movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely…….”
        Above you state:
        “There were earlier expulsions”
        – which indicates that you do not rely on the mythical Roman expulsion. I asked you to provide evidence of these but you have ignored my question – among many others.

        A terrible crime has indeed been committed however and the victims are readily identifiable. It began in 1948 and was achieved by massacre and rape:

        Ari Shavit: According to your new findings, how many cases of Israeli rape were there in 1948?

        Benny Morris: About a dozen. In Acre four soldiers raped a girl and murdered her and her father. In Jaffa, soldiers of the Kiryati Brigade raped one girl and tried to rape several more. At Hunin, which is in the Galilee, two girls were raped and then murdered. There were one or two cases of rape at Tantura, south of Haifa. There was one case of rape at Qula, in the center of the country. At the village of Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Gezer [in the Ramle area] there were four female prisoners, one of whom was raped a number of times. And there were other cases. Usually more than one soldier was involved. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg.

        Ari Shavit: According to your findings, how many acts of Israeli massacre were perpetrated in 1948?

        Benny Morris: Twenty-four. In some cases four or five people were executed, in others the numbers were 70, 80, 100. There was also a great deal of arbitrary killing. Two old men are spotted walking in a field – they are shot. A woman is found in an abandoned village – she is shot. There are cases such as the village of Dawayima [in the Hebron region], in which a column entered the village with all guns blazing and killed anything that moved.

        The worst cases were Saliha (70-80 killed), Deir Yassin (100-110), Lod (250), Dawayima (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70). There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there. At Jaffa there was a massacre about which nothing had been known until now. The same at Arab al Muwassi, in the north. About half of the acts of massacre were part of Operation Hiram [in the north, in October 1948]: at Safsaf, Saliha, Jish, Eilaboun, Arab al Muwasi, Deir al Asad, Majdal Krum, Sasa. In Operation Hiram there was a unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion. That can’t be chance. It’s a pattern.

        http://www.logosjournal.com/morris.htm

        A million people (most likely the descendants of Jews) were driven off their land at gunpoint in 1948 and 1967. There is no dispute about that and the list of massacres is growing. Tantura has been confirmed.

        Perhaps you might like to explain to me on what rational basis you can possibly assert that the rights of descendants, a hundred generations removed from a mythical expulsion, should take precedence over the rights of a populace expelled within living memory.

      • Mooser
        November 22, 2017, 1:52 pm

        “What if it were impossible to say…/… land don’t deserve it?”

        Shorter “Jack Green”: ‘What’s the use of being Jewish if you don’t get anything out of it? And besides you owe us!’

      • Mooser
        November 22, 2017, 1:57 pm

        “would you decide that its better to return land even if some of the people who get land don’t deserve it?”

        As I’m sure you know “Jack Green” the entire human genome has been mapped. Would you please tell us which particular sequences, on which strands, indicate land rights in Palestine? (let alone Jewishness)
        If you Google “DNA land rights in Palestine” you may even get a convenient chart. With a plat map, and a telephone app.

      • Jack Green
        November 22, 2017, 4:26 pm

        Brewer

        The first exile was the Assyrian exile, the expulsion from the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) begun by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria in 733 BCE. This process was completed by Sargon IIwith the destruction of the kingdom in 722 BCE, concluding a three-year siege of Samaria begun by Shalmaneser V. The next experience of exile was the Babylonian captivity, in which portions of the population of the Kingdom of Judah were deported in 597 BCE and again in 586 BCE by the Neo-Babylonian Empire under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar II.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_diaspora

        The emperor Titus brought 20,000 Jewish slaves to Rome, slaves used to bulid the Roman Coliseum. Proof of this lies in the Arch of Titus, which depicts a menorah as part of the bounty from Jerusalem.

        https://www.jewishgen.org/sephardic/coliseum.htm

      • Mooser
        November 22, 2017, 4:32 pm

        Oh boy! Are we at the circus? There’s a parade of irrelevants!

      • amigo
        November 22, 2017, 5:35 pm

        Jack , your second link is to an article written by , one , Sarina Roffee.

        She does not provide one reference or evidence of her claims.

        Your wiki link is full of (citation needed) notes.

        In any case , the wiki article is akin to copying and pasting pages from the bible.

        Please provide realistic and verifiable evidence v myths from a book , written by Jews , for Jews.

        You and your crazy zio fellow travelers might swallow this nonsense but there is not one serious court of law on this planet –hell , in this universe that would treat this work of fiction as anything other than pure fantasy.

  4. Brewer
    November 22, 2017, 10:30 pm

    So utterly preposterous I am reluctant to even reply Jack.
    The Assyrian captivity AKA the Lost Tribes ??
    An biblical event with not one shred of archaeological or Historic evidence.
    Tudor Vernon Parfitt is a British historian. He is Emeritus Professor of Modern Jewish Studies in the University of London at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where he was the founding director of the Centre for Jewish Studies.
    Here is what he says about this fable:
    “the Lost Tribes are indeed nothing but a myth”
    – Parfitt, Tudor (2003). The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth. Phoenix. pp. 1, 225.

    My understanding of the (again probably mythical) Babylonian exile is that it lasted about 70 years then they returned.

    The Romans we have dealt with. You can find references to anything from 100s to 100s of thousands of slaves taken by the Romans. The logistics of moving captives at the time argues against a large number. No one has a clue how many but since Vespasian gave permission for the Sanhedrin to be moved to Yavneh at that time, we can be certain a great number remained, many of whom became Christian and Muslim during the subsequent couple of millennia. There was no general expulsion, as Israel Bartal explains. Any slaves were taken from the Zealots to whom the majority of Jews were opposed. That you cite the Menorah in Titus’ Triumph as “proof” of 20,000 slaves makes me question your fitness to debate these issues. There is a trumpet next to the Menorah. Does this prove Satchmo was among the captives? There is an equivalent logical connection – i.e. none whatsoever.

    Is this the best you can do? Are you seriously suggesting these events (even if they were fact) justify the expulsion of a populace descended from the very same stock and who had lived on the land for thousands of years? Please address that question.

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