The silent Israelization of the occupied West Bank territory
Israel to seize 3799 dunums of Bethlehem and Hebron Governorates Land

The silent Israelization of the occupied West Bank territory <br> 

Israel to seize 3799 dunums of Bethlehem and Hebron Governorates Land


On the 31st of August, 2014, the Israeli daily newspaper published on its website that the Israeli Civil Administration has declared the seizure of about 4000 dunums of land of Bethlehem and Hebron Governorate by declaring them “State Land”. The declaration came “in response to the June kidnapping and killing of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas militants in the area”, as stated by the newspaper. 

The military order was issued by the so-called “The Custodian of Absentee property & Israel Land Authority of Judea and Samaria ” attached to the Israeli Ministry of Defense/Civil Administration , Yousi Sigal, on the 25th of August 2014 and seizes 3799 dunums from five Palestinian villages in Hebron and Bethlehem Governorates, Wadi Fukin, Husan, Nahalin, Surif and Jab’a. See Table 1:-

Table 1: Targeted Palestinian villages


Targeted Village


Targeted Parcels

Targeted area from village boundary









Wadi Fukin























Source: Geo-Informatics Department, ARIJ 2014

According to the military order, the "Custodian of the Absente Property” based in his decision to an illegal Israeli law issued following the Israeli military Occupation of the Palestinian Territory in 1967- (Order Concerning State Property (Judea & Samaria) (No. 59-1967))[1] – in which it considers the targeted land (3799 dunums) as state land. Palestinian land owners get to submit their petitions against the aforementioned order within 45 days at the Israeli objections committee[2] in Ofra camp, Ramallah Governorate which hears the appeals concerning decisions of the Custodian of Absentee Property (amended by M.O.406 and others) and other land appropriation judgments of the Israeli Military and Government. See photocopy of the military order in Hebrew and the attached map :


Photo 1-2: A copy of the military order and the attached map

Map 1: (Absentee Property – Judea and Samaria- 59/1967

The issued Israeli military order paves the way for the construction of a new Israeli settlement in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. in a move that will cut the contiguity of the Palestinian communities in  the area, at the same time, it will increase the correlation of Israeli settlements in the area and enhance the control over the Palestinian land, especially that this area is quite strategic and makes up the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, which Israel seeks to annex to its proper through the construction of the segregation wall and keep it under its absolute control.

Building in Geva’ot settlement

On the 10th of February 2012, the Israeli “Defense” minister[3], Ehud Barack, authorized the implementation of plan number 2/2/418 which states the construction of 61[4] new settlement units in Geva’ot military site in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc west of Bethlehem city.

Later on the 1st of December 2009, the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, unveiled a Secret and comprehensive Israeli settlements database led by the Israeli “Defense” Minister Ehud Barak, that time [3]. The database[5] revealed that on the 28th of August 1982, the Israeli cabinet  approved the establishment of a Nahal pre‐settlement on Palestinian land southwest of Bethlehem city by declaring it as State land. The approval was based on decision number 887—32/HT.

Some years later, on the 1st of July 1998, the Israeli military commander in the area, announced  that the  jurisdiction of the settlement of Alon Shevut is to be amended to include the Geva&#39;ot Nahal pre‐settlement within its borders.  This in turn has made the approval of the 60 settlement units in Geva’ot settlement look like as an expansion of an existing settlement (Alon Shevut) and not an establishment of a new settlement in the area. Note that Geva’ot military site is around 3 km to the northwest of Alon Shevut settlement.

Later on the 19th of December 2012, following the Palestinian National Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, headed to the UN  to seek &#39;a non-member observer status state&#39; in the UN, and gain a statehood recognition, the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barack, approved a plan to construct 523 units[6]  in Gevaot military site, in a step that will change the status of  Geva’ot from Military site to an urban settlement. The plan holds number 1/2/418. The building approval gave the Higher planning council at the Israeli Civil administration the green light to go forward with the plan and deposit it for public review that time.   

Israel declares the seizure of 984 dunums of Palestinian land west of Bethlehem city    

On the 6th of April 2014, the “Custodian of Absentee property & Israel Land Authority of Judea and Samaria ” attached to the Israeli Ministry of Defense/Civil Administration , Yousi Sigal, issued a military order to seize 984[7] dunums of land from two Palestinian communities in Bethlehem and Hebron Governorates, Al Khader and Beit Ummer, by declaring it “State Land”.  See Copy of Military Order

Photo 4-6: Order Concerning State Property (Judea & Samaria) (No. 59-1967))

Map 2: The two military orders of April and August 2014


Analysis conducted by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)  of the military order shows that the Israeli government had started with the confiscation of 984 dunums of Palestinian land as preliminary step towards expropriating more Palestinian lands in the area that is actually located between the illegal settlements of Ele’azar, Rush Tzurim, Neve Daniel and Alon Shevut, with the purpose of fortifying and consolidating the Gush Etzion Settlement Bloc in general. Additionally, the new Israeli military order which confiscates around 4000 dunums in Bethlehem  and Hebron Governorates  comes to complete the settlement ring in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc and seizes the entire area and annex it to Israel.

To conclude,

Since its occupation of the Palestinian land in 1967, Israel embarked on enacting of illegal and ambiguous laws in an attempt to legitimize its seizure of the Palestinian land in a deceptive and democratic manner; while on the ground, it is quite the opposite. Israel moved steadily towards various types of land confiscation to serve its colonial and expansionist plans in the Palestinian territory where the main type of land expropriation was Confiscation by declaring “State Land” using the ottoman land classifications (Waqf Mulk, Khuraj, Matrouk, Mawat, Miri lands) or confiscation by declaring Abandoned land (not cultivated), confiscation by declaring military zones and for military purposes, confiscation for closed areas, confiscation for public use and confiscation by Absentee Property law of 1950 and its amendments.

In fact, the Israeli seizure of Palestinian land under any pretext is a systematic Israeli circumvent over the international law rules and international legitimacy resolutions, where all of the confiscation orders issued by Israel are illegitimate and contradicts with the United Nation Security council Resolutions 242 and 338 that  stipulate the illegality of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian land and that includes all the confiscations, building illegal settlements and outposts and bypass roads,  constructing the Segregation Wall, destroying Palestinian properties and restricting their movement and all of the colonial practices conducted by Israel since June 4, 1967-present are illegal, null and void. 


[1]  Military Order #59 (1967?) – establishes the Israeli Military-appointed position of "Custodian of Government Property" to take over land owned by the Jordanian Government. Also, allows the "Custodian of Government Property" to appropriate land from individuals or groups by declaring it "Public Land" or "State Land", the latter which it defines as land that was owned or managed by, or had a partner who was an enemy body or citizen of an enemy country during the 1967 war (amended by M.O.1091).

[2] Military Order #172 (1967) – establishes the Military Objections Committee to hear appeals concerning decisions of the Custodian of Absentee Property (amended by M.O.406 and others) and other land appropriation judgments of the Israeli Military and Government. Complainant carries the burden of proof of land ownership. He must produce complete surveys of property by licensed surveyor (very expensive), and sworn statements from authorities proving details of his claim, with copies, within 45 days. This committee is not required to publish it&#39;s judgments in local newspapers (as required by Jordanian Law), but only to post in the halls of its own offices.


[3] Ehud Barack held the position of Defense Minister in 2012

[4] Barak approves new settler homes in Gevaot

[5] Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement

[6] New Judean Town Planned for Gush Etzion

[7]  Israel set to legalize West Bank outpost, taking over private Palestinian land


Prepared by:  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Military Orders