BETHLEHEM, Friday, February 24, 2023 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers today uprooted and seized dozens of olive saplings from the land of al-Khader town, south of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to a local activist.
Ahmad Salah said that Israeli settlers, under military protection, barged their way into the southern part of the southern West Bank town, trespassing on the cultivated land of the Sbeih family, uprooting and seizing 70 recently-planted olive saplings.
Located 4 kilometers to the west of Bethlehem city, al-Khader has a population of some 12,500 and occupies a total area of 8,280 dunams.
Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement made 25 years ago that was supposed to last just five years towards a self-governing country alongside Israel, the Palestinian Authority was given limited control over a small pocket of land occupying some 1,200dunams, accounting for almost 14.5 percent of the village’s total area. In contrast, Israel maintains control over the remainder, classified as Area C.
Since the start of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, like so many other villages in Palestine, al-Khader has been subjected to almost continual land theft for Israeli settlements, bypass roads, and military installations.
Israel has constructed Efrat and Neve Daniyyel colonial settlements on an area of 6,329 dunums of Palestinian land, including a portion confiscated from al-Khader. It has also constructed a section of the apartheid wall, isolating some 5,620 dunums of the town’s land for colonial settlement activities and pushing the villagers into a crowded enclave, a ghetto, surrounded by walls, settlements and military installations.
It has confiscated more land for the construction of a tunnel and a crossing, controlling Palestinian movement from Bethlehem city and the western countryside villages.
Israeli settler violence against Palestinians is almost a routine reality in the occupied West Bank, and is rarely prosecuted by the Israeli occupation authorities.
Settlers’ violence includes property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others.
There are over 800,000 Israeli settlers living in colonial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.