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Settlers seize 2000 Dunams of Palestinian Land

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hebron: Two Thousand Dunams of Palestinian Land Around Harsina Settlement Suddenly Seized.

By Jerry Levin

January 21, 2004

HEBRON-Israeli settlers from the two large settlements of Harsina and Kiryat Arba, situated along Hebron's eastern edge, have escalated their continuing campaign of annexing fertile Palestinian farmland lying between the two settlements.

Harsina, like most Israeli West Bank settlements, sits on top of a hill. The new fence is being laid out about four hundred meters (about one quarter of a mile) downhill from the settlement's current fence line. Guarded by Israeli soldiers and armed settlement security guards, other settlers operating bulldozers, backhoes, posthole diggers, and dump trucks have been speedily tearing up, leveling, and graveling fifteen-meter wide swaths of prime Palestinian farmland over which they are then laying down several thousand meters of new high so-called "security fences" equipped with electronic sensors

Palestinians living below the settlement told CPT that this latest expansion began Monday January 18th. CPTers Maureen Jack, Barbara Martens, Jerry Levin, Art Gish, and CPT visitor Dorah Rosen went to Harsina where they observed far eastern laborers as well as teenage Israeli boys (who said they had been given time off from school) slipping metal fence posts into newly dug holes, cementing them in place, and then attaching ten foot high sections of metal mesh fencing to the posts. One farmer, whose land and house is in the path of the fence, reported how he could do nothing but stand by helplessly and watch while one hundred olive trees and four wells on his fifty-year-old farm were destroyed.

While following the route of the new fence, the CPTers encountered Abdel Hadi Hantash, of the Hebron Land Defense Committee, a local expert on annexation of Palestinian land. He estimated that about two thousand dunams (one dunam=one quarter of an acre) around Harsina is in the process of being annexed by the settlement. Added to a vast tract of thirty-five hundred dunams running down from Harsina eastward to the settlers-only highway running between Harsina and Kiryat Arba situated on another hill about a mile to the south, Palestinians farming the Wadis around Harsina will have lost more than five thousand dunams in less than a year.

Harsina lies about a mile to the north of Kiryat Arba, where the pace of the latest campaign of land annexation is also escalating. (See Hebron: Creeping Annexation is spreading East and West from Wadi al-Ghroos, December 31, 2003). An initial estimate of the number of dunams affected there was a thousand. Abdel Hadi Hantash remarked that combining those one thousand dunams with about six hundred connected to them, which were seized and fenced off last year, the total number of annexed dunams between Kiryat Arba and Harsina is about six thousand five hundred.

If and when the two settlements' separate fencing systems are further extended to a point where they actually connect up, a southern West Bank version of the more than one hundred mile "annexation wall" being rushed to completion in the North will become a sudden reality around Kiryat Arba and Harsina.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit our website at: http://www.cpt.org. Photos of our projects may be viewed at: http://www.cpt.org/gallery


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