Israel Building Farm on Palestinian Land

The farm is part of a intensive project to connect Israel proper to the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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A bulldozer working on the project creating continuity from the Green Line to Ariel.
A bulldozer working on the project creating continuity from the Green Line to Ariel.Credit: Amira Hass
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Israel is building a large farm on a Palestinian village’s land in the West Bank, with the only route to the land passing through another village’s olive plantations.

The villagers of A-Dik and Brukin in the Salfit District are complaining that settlers and construction workers are passing illegally through Brukin’s land on their way to the intended farm, which is located on A-Dik’s land. They filed a complaint with the Palestinian police and expect the Palestinian Liaison Committee to pass their complaint on to the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration.

The Shomron Regional Council recently started building an agricultural farm on a 100-dunam (25 acre) plot on a hill northwest of the Bruchin settlement. The area is part of 450 dunams belonging to A-Dik and the town of Bidia, which were declared state lands in 1985. Over the past two weeks four bulldozers have been levelling the rocky soil on the hill.

The work is part of an intensive construction-and-development project creating Israeli continuity from the Green Line to the Ariel settlement on either side of Hotze Shomron highway. The project consists of construction in the area’s settlements and of a new settlement, Leshem, and the authorization of the illegal outpost Bruchin in 2012. In addition to the farm, the state is planning to build another settlement on the land.

Last Friday, the villagers demonstrated against the plan to build the farm. After the protest, bulldozers accompanied by a large Israel Defense Forces force blocked with large rocks two roads connecting the Palestinian villages south of Route 5 to the village of Sarta north of the road.

A-Dik Council head Jamal Omar Dik told Haaretz that the nearby settlements and the roads serving the settlers were built on his village’s land. The hill where the construction work is taking place is also part of A-Dik, he said.

Dik denied Israel’s authority to turn the Palestinian villages’ public land and soil reserves into state lands intended for Jews only.

A-Dik has some 6,000 residents on an area of 1,250 square meters in A area (under Palestinian jurisdiction). The village cannot expand because its empty land is in C area, which is under Israeli control, and Israel prohibits Palestinian construction on it, he said.

While Israel, which controls the West Bank’s water sources, allocates a mere 300 cubic meters of water a day (some 50 liters per person) to the village, it is clear that the new farm will have plenty of water, he said.

Over the past 15 years, the settlers have expanded their farming on private Palestinian lands, which they seized illegally, and on public Palestinian land that the Civil Administration declared state lands. By 2013, the settlers were cultivating some 95,000 dunams in the West Bank, according to research conducted by Dror Etkes, who tracks the settlements in the West Bank.

Since 2013, the settlers’ farming area has expanded by another 1,350 dunams, Etkes said.

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