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


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.

Israel to move checkpoint deeper into West Bank


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Video of the Week: Recent Israel History Miko Peled

Transcription made from The Miko's Speeches

This is a beautiful church so once again thank you to the pastor for allowing us to use this is really beautiful and thank you all for being here tonight and and for caring enough to take the time and listen and participate and be active I always begin my remarks with a disclaimer and that disclaimer is this if anybody here came hoping to hear a balanced presentation then they're going to be sorely disappointed I say this because a lot of things that you're about to hear tonight are difficult to hear and also because I don't believe that a balanced presentation on this topic is possible anybody that cares enough to speak about this probably has a very strong opinion one way or the other almost everybody has feelings and strong emotions on this issue one way or the other for me it's deeply personal and the issue itself is not a balanced issue there is no balance in this issue so therefore I say this because there cannot be a balanced presentation on this and I think if anybody claims that their presentation is balanced they're either misleading themselves or the misleading of their audience this whole issue of Israel and Palestine is covered in so much myth and there's so much there's so much double standard when people talk about this issue and I'll give you two examples

Don't know if you heard Bibi Netanyahu speech at the United Nations I heard it not live but after he actually delivered it and he began and he began it with probably the two most striking examples of myth and double standard and he began by talking about the right of return of the Jews to their ancient homeland and of course the Jews that returned so-called returned to their homeland were not exactly the the same Jews who were expelled from their homeland right because these were expelled a couple of thousand years before that these were not their descendants either because they this is business has been a very long time so these are people the people that actually came back so to speak are people that claim some kind of a heritage some kind of a connection a relationship to the ancient Hebrews and they claimed that they had the right to return to their homeland and this was this is what Zionism was about and this is expected this was you know accepted by the world as the right they had the right to return now if we talk about the right of return of one nation you'd expect that there would be if we accept it as a principle than

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