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June 30 2022 7:53 PM ˚
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‘No shame’ : Israel steals 22,000 dunums of Palestinian land

Largest land grab from Israel in 25 years

Protesters wave flags of Fatah and Palestine as they burn Israeli ones during a demonstration against the illegal stealing of Palestinian land by Israel, in the village of Kfar Qaddam in the occupied West Bank on May 20, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
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TEL AVIV — In the latest major land grab, the head of the Israeli government’s military arm in the occupied West Bank signed on April 12 an order declaring 22,000 dunums of land south of the ancient city of Jericho as a “nature reserve”. 6,000 of the 22,000 dunums are Palestinian land set to be stolen, reported the Palestinian News Agency, Wafa. اضافة اعلان

This is the largest Israeli nature reserve established on stolen land since the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed.

The declaration was published only a week ago, according to the Israeli Peace Now movement, however, it will take effect 60 days after its publication.

The Wadi Og Nature Reserve declaration, in addition to the legal restrictions that normally exist in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military control, will pose additional difficulties and restrictions to how Palestinians are permitted to use their lands. This includes owners of the land that was declared “nature reserve” not being be able to cultivate their land, plant any trees, or graze their land without approval from the Nature Reserve Officer, said Peace Now.

It will also further prevent Palestinian shepherds from pasturing their flocks in the Umm Zuka reserve in the Jordan Valley, which will have direct adverse consequences on the lives of vulnerable families making a living from agriculture.

Over the years Palestinian shepherds have reported that soldiers and rangers have prevented them from pasturing their flocks in the aforementioned areas. Israeli settlers, however, have been allowed such use, according to Haaretz. In another case, in 2020, Haaretz reported that Palestinian-owned cows were confiscated by the Civil Administration after they entered a reserve, even as frequent grazing was allowed by cows belonging to a settler from a nearby outpost.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority rangers are permitted to enforce these restrictions, reported Haaretz.

Peace Now explained that any declaration of a nature reserve by the head of the Civil Administration must have the prior approval of the Minister of Defense.

“This is not a matter of protecting nature but rather of taking control of land," said Israeli liberal activist group Peace Now. "In the occupied territories, nature reserves are one of the many tools that Israel uses to deprive Palestinians of their land."

The group added that the government “is losing its shame” and appears to be looking to deepen the occupation "by any means possible."

To date, said Peace Now, Israel has declared about 48 nature reserves in the West Bank, with a total area of at least 383,600 dunums (95,000 acres), which are about 12 percent of Area C and about 7 percent of the entire West Bank.

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