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Israel confiscates 1,000 acres of Palestinian land south of Bethlehem
Published Sunday 31/08/2014 (updated) 01/09/2014 18:48
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(MaanImages/file)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Sunday announced the confiscation of around 4,000 dunums (1,000 acres) of private Palestinian land south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.

Palestinian owners of the land were given 45 days to submit formal objections to the announcement in Israeli courts, otherwise all confiscated lands would automatically become Israeli government property.

Mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Surif Muhammad Ghuneimat told Ma'an that Israeli forces posted signs in private olive tree orchards in the area warning that they have been confiscated by the Israeli government.

Ghuneimat added that the confiscated fields belonged to Palestinians from the towns of Surif, Husan, al-Jabaa and Bethlehem.

The announcement reportedly came as a response by Israeli political authorities in response to the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the area near Gush Etzion settlement bloc in June.

Israel has named three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as being behind the murders, without providing evidence.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now expressed alarm at the move.

"As far as we know, this declaration is unprecedented in its scope since the 1980s and can dramatically change the reality in the Gush Etzion and the Bethlehem areas," it said in a statement.

"Peace Now views this declaration as proof that Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu does not aspire for a new 'Diplomatic Horizon,' but rather he continues to put obstacles to the two-state vision and promote a one-state solution.

"By declaring another 4,000 dunams as state land, the Israeli government stabs (Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas) and the moderate Palestinian forces in the back, proving again that violence delivers Israeli concessions while non-violence results in settlement expansion," it said.

Peace Now official Hagit Ofran told AFP that the legal basis for such land confiscation was an 1858 ruling by the region's Ottoman rulers.

Part of the lands being confiscated are already home to the illegal Jewish settlement of Gvaot, part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

Local settlers moved into the area and took over Palestinian land with military support more than a decade ago, but have been living in an area technically unrecognized by Israeli authorities despite their armed protection.

The Etzion settlements council welcomed Sunday's announcement, saying in a statement that it "paves the way for the new city of Gevaot."

"The goal of the murderers of those three youths was to sow fear among us, to disrupt our daily lives and to call into doubt our right to the land," it said. "Our response is to strengthen settlement."

Since mid-June, Israeli authorities have announced more than 1,472 new settlement homes, slated to house around 6,000 Jewish settlers, across the West Bank, including around Bethlehem.

Israeli settlements are generally built on the hills in and around Palestinian towns and villages, and critics charge they are strategically located so as to encircle them and make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.

AFP contributed to this report.
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1 ) inbound39 / New Zealand
31/08/2014 14:37
More Collective Punishment. Israel looks more and more like WW2 Germany every day. Proof it does not want peace. Provocation and violence is all Israel knows.

2 ) Freddie Fartz / Germany
31/08/2014 15:55
These are the consequences of the murders, after accusing Israel of a conspiracy, a senior Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri, who is based in Turkey, admitted finally that his group had carried out the “heroic” act of kidnapping and murdering Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-Ad Shear in the Hebron area last June. “I praise the brave action that the al-Qassam Brigades carried out, the kidnapping of the three settlers to Hebron,” Saleh al-Arouri said in the recording.

3 ) @ Inbred-1 / USA
31/08/2014 17:36
[a] I Agree it's "more and more like WW2 Germany". However, it is the opposite of your intent, where it is PALESTINIANS today, that are acting more and more LIKE WW2 NAZI, with their racist murdering for profit, and [b] Murdering 3 Jewish teenagers is also "Collective Punishment" of the worst kind, and at least Israel's Punishments are Not Murder, and besides, - ARAB suggested the Idea of "LAND FOR PEACE", which seems to be a - JEWISH idea now, where NO LAND FOR NO PEACE !!

4 ) Freedom for Palestine / Canada
31/08/2014 17:39
Horrific! More theft and this is after the massacres of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including 500 children. The global community is deeply shocked by the intentional Israeli bloodbaths and war crimes. We will not forget. The BDS will continue to grow even faster now and isolate this murderous state even more.

5 ) joefattal / USA
31/08/2014 19:00
Mel/USA He has said once, Israel don't give anything unless they take something away. They just did that. They going to milk the 3 settlers death to the rapture. Its like they were hoping for something to happen so it can be use and reuse again and again.

6 ) june watson / uk
31/08/2014 19:06
Well ,tell the Palestinians to show what other way the teenagers will be safe in the future. If you cant be trusted you cant come close

7 ) humza / usa
31/08/2014 19:11
@1...israel is not like germany. germany did not plot against a people like israel. those 3 teens were not killed by palestininas. israel planned the whole thing so they can do this.

8 ) Amy / USA
31/08/2014 19:29
Israel will continue its illegal actions unless the world makes a concerted effort to stop them. As long as the US continues to give them Billions in aid, it will continue to use that aid which is intended to help the people, for their illegal actions against their neighbors and world interest,which should be an effort towards peace.

9 ) where is NATO / usa
31/08/2014 20:06
doesn't NATO specialize in humanitarian interventions? seems they are doing everything they can to ignore the slaughter taking place in Palestine the last 75 years. I fear my idol has feet of clay.

10 ) JV / Canada
31/08/2014 22:06
Netanyahu is determined to get the war started again with in 30 days. The international community either stops this or there will be no peace.

11 ) MB / Dk
31/08/2014 22:38
When is the next war due to happen ? Reason for asking is that the Zionists are waving for more wars in the area. Arabs states are quite and saying nothing which the Zionist takes their silent as an OK for throwing the Palestinians out of their home. Poor the Palestinians ? Fighting all alone against the area supper power and the Zionist USA are helping them to kill all the Arabs in the area for a greater Israel and a weaker USA I hope.

12 ) Steve Wiseman / USA
01/09/2014 00:25
I have been trying to figure out where the Palestinians get their courage to fight the best stocked military in the world with little more than their bare hands and why did the Indians of North America , for example, quit fighting their vicious conquerors - us. I think the difference might be that 90% of the Indians were wiped out by disease…whereas , although the Palestinians have been murdered , raped, bombed, poisoned, and otherwise pulverized by a British and USA controlled UN and the

13 ) Joe / US
01/09/2014 00:25
I hope it's obvious by now to anyone watching the conflict that Israel does not mean to make peace, but instead wants ALL the land, preferably without any non-Jewish people on it. The only thing keeping them at bay is the international community. They won't risk sanctions that would hurt their pockets. Israel would simply not survive in isolation. The natural resources are very limited.

14 ) Wellwisher / Europe
01/09/2014 14:28
How much longer are the Palestinians supposed to sit quietly while Israel continues to steal their land & quite literally gets away with murder. Those countries that could help, instead aid & abet Israel, the UN seems impotent to help, which only leaves the ICC (could take years). Other countries get sanctioned & bombed, what makes Israel special? Time for those in power to face up to their responsibilities & put an end to this. Sanction Israel & place an arms & aid embargo on it. Sickening.

15 ) Rena / Israel and USA
01/09/2014 16:54
If Arabs could prove private ownership, Israel would not touch the land. The land was part of the Palestine Mandate, then occupied by Jordan for 19 years, and then Jordan gave up the territory to Israel. Israelis have been living on the land for many years, which is adjacent to other Israeli towns, and now the land will be developed into a modern town.

16 ) marnie / israel
02/09/2014 09:58
The onus should be no the thieves to prove their ownership, not the palestinians. If the ownership is based on the bible - please. The hebrews were not obedient to their God and lost their rights to the land. The land wasn't empty in 1948, 1900, 1800, etc. Most of the cities and towns in the state of israel had arab names before 1948. The ruthless, criminal enterprise (zionism) claiming a "God" given mandate to a land they were dispersed from has no basis in reality.

17 ) rhoda s / canada
02/09/2014 22:26
since this land grab closely apprroximates the size of central park, nyc the zionist enemy could take it over to build more settlements!

18 ) leah / usa
03/09/2014 06:48
"The Oslo II Interim Agreement, signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat at the White House in 1995 (and witnessed by the EU), established a division of the West Bank into three areas: Area A, where the Palestinians had full control, Area B where there was mixed Israeli and Palestinian security control but full Palestinian civil control, and Area C, where Israel had full military and civilian control. Israeli responsibilities in Area C included the power of zoning and planning. The territory wh

19 ) Jorge / brazil
03/09/2014 08:24
wait a minute. The "owners" can appeal. They have 45 days to do it. Go ahead and prove it is private land. It sounds logical for me.

20 ) Beth / US
06/09/2014 07:54
Jorge, the owners can appeal, but that is all a smoke screen. It sounds good. The reality is, the land will be (has been) taken and it won't be released back to the owners. I used to live in the W Bank and E Jerusalem and saw first hand what Israel can and does do to Palestinians. In these instances Israel is wrong. However, I must say in all fairness, both parties contribute to the on going conflict of the area.

21 ) Stanley Paul Thomas / England
06/09/2014 13:14
There will never be true peace without true justice for all.

22 ) Daniel / France
07/09/2014 08:28
"Israel has named three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as being behind the murders, without providing evidence." ??? Ma'an, either you are forgetful, biased or denying the truth. A Hamas operative himself confessed Hamas was behind the abduction and the murder of the three teenagers. What evidence more do you need if not a confession?
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