New Israeli Attempt to resettle in Ush Ghurab area in Beit Sahour

New Israeli Attempt to resettle in Ush Ghurab area in Beit Sahour
General Glance
Ush Ghurab is the name of the site which lies in the eastern part of Beit Sahour city. The site was the headquarter of the Jordanian Army Forces until the June 1967, the date of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands, where the site became an Israeli military base for the Israeli occupation forces. Throughout the years, the Israeli army confiscated more Palestinian-owned lands to expand the military base. The site is bordered from three directions (south, west and north) by Palestinian built-up area of Beit Sahour city, and from the east, it is bordered by Za’tara bypass road.
Evacuation or Manipulation? 
On April 27, 2006, and in a surprising move, the Israeli Occupation Forces evacuated the military base, and moved to another Israeli Military base located southeast of Beit-Sahour City called Herodion Base, in Al Furdeis area. However, the evacuated site was not handed over to the Palestinian Authority until today.
Following the Israeli unilateral evacuation of Ush Ghurab site, the Israeli colonial attempts to resettle in the evacuated area had started, where an Israeli extreme right-wing settler’s organization called “Women in Green” which is supported by a number of Israeli Knesset members, launched a call to the Israeli settlers and supporters to join them in a daily and weekly field visits to resettle in the evacuated military base of Ush Ghurab or “Shdema” (the Israeli name of the site).
Furthermore, and in May 28, 2008, the aforementioned Israeli settler’s organization organized a filed visit for Ush Ghurab area under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces. Within the group there was two Knesset member Arieh Eldad and Yaakov Katz and other settler’s leaders like Dr Ron Breiman, Uri Bank, Ruthie Lieberman and Gush Etzion Settlement bloc Mayor Shaul Goldstein. The group claims that they put a cornerstone for a new settlement in the site called Shdema.
 Later on and in January 31, 2010, the Israeli media revealed that the Israeli commander of Etzion region “’Eren Mokav” informed the head of what is so-called “Israeli committee for Jewish Shdema” the Knesset Member Arieh Eldad, the Israeli military intention to resettle in the evacuated area of Ush Ghurab in the near future, in a step that may open the door for the Israeli settlers leader to build their proposed settlement (Shdema) in the area.
Accordingly, and in February 11, 2010, the Israeli Army bulldozers, protected by the Israeli forces razed Ush Ghurab Area and declared the site as a closed military area for 48 hours and started to leveling the land to prepare for building a military observation tower in the area, a thing reflects the Israeli desire to resettle in the area to prevent the residents of Beit Sahour city from building and expanding on their own lands. See Map 1

Map 1: Military Order Number 06/08/T
It is worth mentioning that Beit Sahour Municipality and soon after the Israeli withdrawal from Ush Ghurab area had presented a plan to develop the site to the Israeli Civil Administration because the lands of Ush Ghurab area classified as Area C , which is under Oslo II agreements requires the Municipality to acquire an authorization from the Israeli Civil Administration.
After few months the Israeli Civil Administration had granted the License for Beit Sahour Municipality to carry on with some projects to develop the area, which includes youth center, hospital, public park environmental center, cultural center and a parking on only 54 dunums from the total 1000 dunums of the area.
The development plan presented by Beit Sahour is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who inaugurated the first Stage of the project on February12, 2008 to build the Public Park to benefit people of Beit Sahour city and the surrounding communities.
However, and because much exerted pressure from the Israeli settlers’ councils, the planned projects were soon suspended for further review, which on the ground means further negotiations with the settlers’ councils who plan to establish Shdema settlement in the future.
Legal & International Status
On the ground the Israeli Occupation Army along with the Israeli settlers are pushing toward eliminating the Palestinian existence in Ush Ghurab Area to keep it for their future colonial and expansionist plans on one hand, and on the other hand to link between the Illegal Israeli settlements or Teqou’, Nikodim in the south, Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) settlement in the north and Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the west.
The Israeli occupation is prohibited from confiscating, destroying, leveling the Palestinian lands and properties under the International law rules and conventions.
  • Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention indicated that: Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. is a grave breach of the Convention.
  • Article 53 of the same convention provides that ‘any destruction by the Occupying power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or other public authorities or social or cooperative organizations is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.’
  • Art. 23 of the Hague Convention of 1907 also provides: In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden to destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;