Artas village lands are targeted for settlement expansion

Artas village lands are targeted for settlement expansion

On May 20, 2007, the Israeli bulldozers backed by the Israeli occupation Army and many Israeli settlers from Efrat settlement, razed Mr. Abu Swayy's land in Wadi 'Ameera area in the Palestinian Artas village, southwest of Bethlehem Governorate. The Israeli activities included uprooting dozens of fruit and almond trees (more than 75) in order to lay down the infrastructure and start additional constructions in the Illegal Israeli settlement.


It is worth mentioning that Mr. Abu Swayy in an interview with ARIJ Field Workers in May 19, 2007, indicated that the Israeli Army scouted the targeted area some three days prior to the actions of May 20, and marked the lands to be destroyed but did not indicate any of its intended plan to the Palestinian owner of the land, only to return few days later to level the land uproot the trees to make room for new expansion plans for Efrat settlement. See the following Pictures for the targeted lands before and after:



Photos of Abu Swayy's Land before its being razed


Mr. Abu Swayy added that he received two Israeli military orders to confiscate 130 dunums from his land. The first military order was holding number (137/05/T), and issued in July 7, 2005 under the pretext of building the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall, and the second one was holding number (77/06/T) and issued in September 3, 2006 under the same pretext.


Environmental Disaster is not Inevitable

The Israeli officers informed Mr.Abu Swayy of the Israeli bulldozers intended work, which is to lay down infrastructure and install sewage pipes on his lands, these water pipes will be used to get rid of the sewage water from the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion (Efrat is one of the settlements in this bloc). If such plan goes into effect, the entire  Palestinian agriculture lands in the targeted area will become a swamp filled with the Israeli settlements dirty water. In other words, the village of Artas is facing a serious environmental disaster that might very well end the sustainability for the entire village.


Artas Village

A Palestinian historical village, located about one and a half km south of the city of Bethlehem and about 15 km from the city of Jerusalem. The village is a house of 3,663 persons (PCBS 2006) and occupies a total area of 4275 Dunums. The village build up area spread on a total area of 500 dunums, about 11% of the village's total area.


The village of Artas is bordered by Al Khader village and the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall from north and northwest, the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall and the Illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat from the south and southwest, the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall from the west and Wadi Umm Qal'a from its east. See Map 1

Map of Artas Village



The Segregation Wall Stretches through Artas Lands

On July 7, 2005, the Israeli Army issued a military order holding number (137/06/T) to confiscate 162 dunums from Artas lands to build the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall, which stretches through the village lands. 14 months later, on September 9, 2006, the Israeli Army issued another military order holding number (77/06/T) to confiscate 54 dunums from Artas village land under the same pretext.


The Israeli Segregation Wall will severly hit the village as a whole once completed with 5% of the village is consumed to build the Wall, which will place about 43.5% from the total village build up area (500 dunums) behind the Israeli Segregation Wall. All and all, the entire area to be isolated behind the Israeli Segregation Wall from Artas village is 2,074 dunums, approximately (49%) of the total village area.


The Israeli Segregation Wall path in Artas village is part of the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall section in southwest Bethlehem which starts at the northwestern parts of Beit Jala city (from bypass road #60, the tunnel section), and runs along road # 60 till west of Artas village southwest Bethlehem where it direct toward the southeast to reach west of Khalayel Al Louz, where it heads southwest toward Wadi An Nis, and encompasses all of Efrat settlement. This section of the Segregation Wall stretches a length of 16.3 kilometers, comprising about 31% of the total Wall length in Bethlehem Governorate. See Map 2 and photos below:

Map of the Israeli Apartheid Segregation Wall in Southwest Bethlehem Governorate




Pictures of the Israeli Bulldozers razing Artas Lands to build the Segregation Wall  


Looting Artas Lands

On the ground 2190 dunums of Artas village lands had been expropriated in the year 1979 to build the Illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat (population 7,700 Illegal Israeli settlers) and to establish several sites for the Israeli Army. Throughout the last two decades, Artas village had lost 2583 Dunums (60+ %) of its total area (4275 dunums) to the interest of the Illegal Israeli colonial practices in the village. See the Table 1:


Table 1: The Israeli Military orders which targeted Arts village lands

Military Order No.

Date of Issuance

Military Order Purpose

Confiscated Area- Dunums




State Lands





State Lands





State Lands





The Wall





The Wall






Source: ARIJ Military Orders Database



To Conclude

Similar to many Palestinian villages in the West Bank, the Palestinian village of Artas and its residents are suffering the repercussions of the Israeli Segregation Wall on a daily bases. The International community stands in helplessness to stop the long Israeli apathy of international law and humanitarian laws.


Under the International law, Israel is prohibited from confiscating and looting the private Palestinian lands or taking any steps leading to change the status on the ground which might result to undermine any chance for a future 'just and durable' peace settlement.

  • The Forth Geneva Convention in Article 174 prohibits the 'extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.'

  • Article XXXI, Oslo II, 1995 provides: Neither side shall take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Related Links

  • The Segregation Wall threatens the lands of Artas Village, Southwest Bethlehem City!!!  May 17, 2006.

  • The Palestinian Village Artas Falls in the Vortex of the Segregation Wall. July 21, 2004.


Prepared by
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem


Categories: Agriculture