Hebron activists launch campaign to get rid of settlers in old city
HEBRON (WAFA) 9 Feb – Palestinian activists in the southern West Bank city of Hebron launched on Thursday a campaign to get rid of several hundred fanatic Israeli settlers who live in the old city under heavy army protection and who have turned the life of Palestinians living there into hell. The campaign, launched from a school inside the old city to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre when a Jewish settler gunned down  Palestinians while performing dawn prayers at the mosque, aims to end the military siege imposed on the old city, according to Mufeed Sharabati, one of the activists. He said the military checkpoints around the old city, which is under full Israeli military control and referred to as H2 where several hundred settlers live among 15,000 Palestinians, “have turned the old city into a ghetto prison.” Under the campaign title “Dismantle the Ghetto off Hebron,” the activists said many people have left the old city fearing for the life of their children from Israeli army and settlers and after life has become very difficult for them. Another activist, Muhannad Jaabari, said the campaign aims to end the misery of the people who live in the old city and who cannot have their families to visit them. He said efforts will be exerted to help them remain steadfast in their homes. The campaign includes Tel Rumeida, Shuhada Street and all the old city and surrounding areas.
Palestinians plant olive trees near settlement industrial zones
SALFIT (Palestine Monitor) 4 Feb by Sarah Bedson — In mid-January, over 100 people, including Palestinian officials, farmers and international activists, convened on the top of a hill to plant olive saplings in Khirbet Kurkush, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit. Salfit’s district governor, Ibrahim Al-Balawi, explained that this action was part of an annual project to boost crops across the West Bank, the primary or secondary source of income for between 80,000 and 100,000 Palestinian families. The location of the action was particularly pertinent due to its proximity to an illegal Israeli settlement industrial zone, Ariel West, as well as on-going threats by Israeli authorities to confiscate land in the area. “This is our land; we live here, as is recognized by international law. We will continue to live and build on our land here despite the occupation,” Al-Balawi said. Mayor of Bruqin, Said Allan, told Palestine Monitor that the local municipality had begun work at the beginning of the month to resurface a road that goes from Khirbet Jalal al-Din to Khirbet Kurkush with the intention of allowing easier access to both farmers working their land and Palestinians visiting the Roman ruins found there. The road, first opened about five years ago, marks the border between Area B (under Palestinian civil control and shared Palestinian and Israeli security control), and C (under full Israeli jurisdiction). On January 15, the mayor reported, Israeli authorities issued a stop-work order for the approximately 4-kilometre stretch of road in Khirbet Kurkush, claiming that the so-called “state land”, in Area C, was being used without permission. The order included a court date. Just a few days earlier, two Israeli soldiers and two civilians had approached the man working on the road, taken the keys to his truck and threatened to arrest him and confiscate his road roller if he did not stop working. Israel has undergone a campaign of remapping in the West Bank in order to requisition areas as “state land”, with 62,000 dunums (15,320 acres) being remapped in 2015 alone….
Palestinian historical city of Sebastia besieged by settlements
Al-Monitor 6 Feb by Zuheir Dolah — Palestinian officials have been attempting to add the West Bank’s historical city of Sebastia on UNESCO’s World Heritage List to protect it from alleged Israeli violations — At the intersection between Nablus and Jenin in the West Bank, specifically between the fields of corn and cypress and almond trees, different civilizations intermingle in a town that took on importance in 876 B.C. In Sebastia, Canaanites settled, and statues like Rhodes Andreas line the tunnels. The Roman, Greek, Farsi, Assyrian and Ottoman empires left their mark on the cathedral in the city center through columns, palaces, towers and antiquities. The cathedral was built during the Byzantine days in the 12th century B.C., and French engineers rebuilt it to breathe life into it. It still stands to this day. Sebastia, which is located on a hilltop that is 440 meters high (one-quarter of a mile), north of Nablus city, is known as the Palestinian capital of Romans, as it is famous for Greek and Roman antiquities dating back to the days of the Roman era. Although Sebastia is a melting pot for civilizations and enjoys historical value dating back 3,000 years, it is besieged by settlements and threatened with disappearance due to Israeli violations such as attempts to move the antiquities to Israeli museums. Sebastia, the gateway of historical civilizations, is facing a future of invaders different from those in previous eras. These invaders are committing serious violations to eliminate the city’s history and impose the Jewish story on it. One of the most dangerous violations is the Israeli decision to ban the entry of foreign tourists to the land of Palestinian antiquities. To tighten the noose on Sebastia, Israel established the Shavei Shomron settlement after confiscating and controlling most of the city’s lands. Sebastia mayor Nael al-Shaer told Al-Monitor, “Israel’s violations against Sebastia affected all archaeological sites and entailed the theft of antiquities from the Ottoman Mosque and their transfer to Israeli museums, as well as the attempt to move some pieces from the Royal Roman Cemetery in the town center. But after failing to lift the large stone graves, they left everything, and the town kept the wooden cranes to stand witness to the Israeli destruction.” Shaer revealed the danger of the new Judaization project in Sebastia, which aims at confiscating all of its lands through the increased attacks of settlers with security coverage from the Israeli army….
West Bank roads to receive NIS 5 billion upgrade
Ynet 7 Feb by Ofer Petersburg — Five-year plan expected to help ease traffic congestion in the area, especially at entrances to Jerusalem, and make the roads safer; Transportation Minister Katz says massive upgrade to infrastructure will help the Jewish settlements further expand and develop — The Israeli government has launched a new five-year plan to upgrade the transportation infrastructure in the West Bank to the tune of NIS 5 billion ($1.3 billion). The massive project, led by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, will include excavating new tunnels, expending main highways, road resurfacing, paving interchanges, new access roads and bypasses, and creating easier access to the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem metropolitan areas via light rail and special public transit lanes. The new public transit lanes are meant to help reduce the traffic congestion on the roads leading into the metropolitan areas … Several roads will be paved to bypass roads that pass through Arab villages. A road to bypass Nabi Ilyas is being paved as part of Route 55 to the tune of NIS 54 million, while a road to bypass Al-Arroub, which will connect the Judea region to Kiryat Arba-Hebron and Jerusalem, is in the planning stages. In addition, a road to bypass Huwara is being planned to better connect the northern Samaria region to Ariel and to central Israel….
Reports: Israel approves 1,162 settlement units in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israel reportedly approved the construction of 1,162 settlement units on Wednesday, to be built in the occupied West Bank, according to Hebrew news website Walla. Walla reported that Israel’s higher planning council on settlement activity, which is affiliated to the Israeli civil administration, approved the new 1,162 settlement units, including units in a new settlement near the existing Shvut Rachel settlement in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. The new settlement adjacent to Shvut Rachel was initially planned to be built to house residents of the now evacuated illegal Amona outpost — an offer refused by the Amona setters. A spokesperson for the Israeli civil administration was not immediately available for comment. It remained unclear as of Thursday whether or not the 1,162 units were part of the more than 6,000 housing units to have been approved for construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by the Israeli government since the beginning of 2017.
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