West Bank University Illegally Moved Construction Debris to Site That May Belong to Palestinians

Ariel University denies claims that the construction debris is being dumped in an area beyond the ‘blue line,’ the zone marked as state land

Ariel University in the West Bank.
\ Moti Milrod

Tons of construction debris have been removed from a building site at Ariel University to a site near the campus that is not state land, and may be private Palestinian land, according to information obtained by Haaretz. Some of the area has been leveled and turned into a parking lot for the university.

The university denies these claims.

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Over the past few months, Ariel University has begun to build large buildings near its student dorms, for which it has construction permits. The construction debris is reportedly being dumped in an area beyond the Civil Administration’s “blue line” – that is, beyond the area demarcated as state land by the Civil Administration, which has issued stop-work orders to the university due to this alleged infraction.

When workers at the site were asked where the debris is taken, they pointed to the area in question. A junk dealer operating in this area also said that he saw the university workers dumping debris there. Photographs from the university’s Student Day event a few weeks ago show that a performance stage had been built in the parking lot that is not on state land.

Nevertheless, the university denies any connection to the area in question. Aerial photos also show a paved road between the construction site and the dump site.

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Because the area in question is beyond the “blue line” demarcating state lands, it may be private Palestinian land, although its owners may not be known. Any construction in such an area is considered a takeover of land that belongs neither to the university or the state.

“It’s not surprising that Ariel University, which is the only university in the world built and existing by military order, has adopted the standards accepted in the West Bank involving the takeover of private Palestinian land,” said Dror Etkes, of the watchdog group Kerem Navot, after examining the Civil Administration maps he has, and who discovered the debris and the parking lot. “The university can continue to deny and lie, but the facts are clear.”

Ariel University responded: “The university does not operate beyond the ‘blue line’, not in this area and not in any other.” The university declined to respond to Haaretz’s query about the parking lot, the reports and the paved road between the construction site and the university.

The Civil Administration responded: “As for claims about dumping debris that is not within the master plan, enforcement orders were given by the inspection unit at the site. The Civil Administration’s inspection unit is also patrolling the area. We emphasize that enforcement is carried out according to priorities and operational considerations.”