IDF Transferred Private Palestinian Land to Settlement, State Reveals

Government response to High Court petition shows that hundreds of square meters belonging to the Samsara family were mistakenly declared state lands in 1983 and transferred to the Shim'a settlement for its expansion.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Bulldozers get to work at a construction site in the West Bank settlement of Adam, on September 27, 2010, a day after the expiration of a moratorium on settlement construction.
Bulldozers get to work at a construction site in the West Bank settlement of Adam, on September 27, 2010, a day after the expiration of a moratorium on settlement construction. Credit: AP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The Israeli government revealed Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces' Civil Administration transferred hundreds of meters of private land belonging to a Palestinian family to the West Bank settlement of Shim'a. The revelation emerged in the state's response to a High Court petition filed against the settlement's expansion.

According to the state's response, the body in charge of implementing Israel's policy in the West Bank had mistakenly included some 663 square meters of land belonging to the Samsara family in their declaration of the area as state lands in 1983. Over the years, the Palestinian owners continued to work their land.

In the 1990s, the Civil Administration transferred the land to the World Zionist Organization, who outlined a plan for the expansion of the Shim'a settlement, which was then authorized in 1999. This past year, the services of the Amana organization – which develops settlements in the West Bank – were retained by the Mount Hebron Regional Council to lead the project's construction.

Before breaking ground, the Civilian Administration returned to the area and surveyed the territory again, discovering that the Samsaras' land was mistakenly included in the area initially declared state lands. However, to rectify the error, the Civil Administration only sent out a letter informing the parties of the change, but failed to make sure no construction was being conducted on the land – a scenario that soon played out as work began.

The land's owners petitioned the top court together with Rabbis for Human Rights' lawyer Kamer Mashraqi Assad, demanding a halt to construction. The state, represented by Ilil Amir-Casif, responded to the petition by saying that "in retrospect part of the lands were not suitable for being included in the state lands and steps will be taken to stop construction on private lands."

Last week, High Court Justice Anat Baron rejected the demand for temporary injunction halting the construction, citing the fact that work in the area had been stopped voluntarily and there was no need for the courts to intervene.

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