Strategic Expansion of the illegal Israeli Settlement of Efrat

Strategic Expansion of the illegal Israeli Settlement of Efrat

On the 26th of January 2015, the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” revealed in a report that the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Planning allocated 850,000 Shekels (215,000 Dollar) to expand the Israeli settlement of Efrat, which it’s a part of Gush Etzion settlement bloc west of Bethlehem Governorate. According to the report, on October 2014, the so-called “Housing and Planning minister” Uri Ariel (ultra nationalist)  signed a contract with two Israeli architects to start the planning and implementation for the expansion of the settlement. Under the new  plan, a new colonial neighborhood to be built on Palestinian land in Khallet An-Nahla area, which located south of Bethlehem city, where  the new neighborhood called “ Giva’t Eitam”, while the Israeli settlers installed this illegal outpost in the year 2013, which located within the Master plan of the illegal settlement of Efrat.

Location of "Givat Eitam" outpost

Moreover, another report  released by “Peace Now” Israeli organization , revealed that the Israeli Minister of Housing and Planning “Uri Ariel”, one of the “Jews House” party (Right wing party) in the current Israeli government, persisting his efforts to settle to fortify Efrat settlement through building the aforementioned neighborhood on the site of the strategic hill. As a part of the Ministry’s’ plan (850,000 NIS), an Israeli architects, who is working on a number of other projects for the Housing Ministry in Efrat settlement,  received 456,000 Shekels while another company, which specializes in road construction, received 370,000 Shekels.

It’s important to mention that on the 22nd of January 2015, the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”  highlighted the report published by the Housing and Planning Ministry which revealed on an enormous fund granted for the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (184 million NIS/ $46.7 million).

Obviously ,the intentions behind publishing  of these plans by the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Planning at this particular  time related to the imminent early parliamentary elections that supposed to be held in Israel in the late of March 2015, where the Minister  Uri Ariel seeking  to burnish his image and win the support of right-wing Israeli voters through highlighting his efforts during his 2 years- term as minister of Housing and Planning.

Events led to the establishment of the Israeli illegal outpost "Giva’t Eitam":

  • In 2004, the Israeli Occupation Authorities issued a military order No. 59 (5727-1967) targeted 1700 dunums of Palestinian land, located at the eastern part of Efrat settlement, at An-Nahla area, and declared it “State land”. It’s worth pointed  that significant part of these lands, around 300 dunums, are owned by  the local resident of Khallet Al-Nahla Mohammad Yahya Ahmed ‘Ayesh. Upon the issuance of confiscation order, Palestinian farmer Mohammed ‘Ayesh started his  long term suffering  with the Israeli occupation authorities in the Israeli courts.
  • In 2007, and according the latest Israeli Ministry of Defense Update for the Segregation Wall path, the confiscated 1700 dunums became at the eastern part of the Segregation Wall path (Palestinian side of the Wall).
  • In 2009, the Israeli Housing and Planning Ministry revealed on a plan  to build 2500 housing units on Eitam hill, in a step to make this hill one of the Efrat settlement neighborhoods, but the planned path of the segregation wall prevented the implementation of building 2500 housing units on Eitam hill, because the hill located east of the Planned path of the Segregation wall. However, the Israeli settlers living in Efrat settlement tried to push the Israeli government to implement the plan to build 2500 housing units on the hill and to change the path of the Segregation wall by annexing the hill to Efrat settlement.
  • The Israeli settlers rejected the freezing of the plan to construct 2500 housing units on Eitam hill. For that in 2009, a group of Israeli settlers from Efrat settlement occupied the hill and established the Israeli Illegal outpost “Givat Eitam”. But what happened that the Israeli bulldozers accompanied with staff from the Israeli Civil Administration stormed the outpost and demolished all the structures, the Israeli Authorities, informed the Israeli settlers, that the outpost is illegal and was built in lands disputed in the Israeli courts. However, the Israeli settlers come back to the site again, and put new structures. And in 2010, they constructed a colonial road on Palestinian private land.
  • Despite the fact that the Israeli occupation authorities demolished the outpost in the beginning but on 2011, the former Israeli Defense Minister “Ehud Barak” approved the establishment of an agricultural farm at the site instead of residential site. For that, the Israeli  settlers get the approval to move to the site and put fence around the hill and transferred a water tank and other agricultural structures, and the Israeli Authorities keep the colonial road which served the Israeli settlers in the outpost, in spite of that the road constructed on Palestinian private land. It is worth mentioning that Barak decision  to approve the construction of farm on Eitam Hill, was thought out carefully, where in 2012, the Israeli Newspaper “Haaretz” revealed in one of its reports that the Israeli Civil Administration would issue a law authorizing the Israeli settlers opening roads without getting the approval from the Israeli related Authorities, if these roads benefit and protect land classified as “ State land”. Accordingly, and because the “Giva’t Eitam” build on “State land” it became “legal” according to the Israeli Authorities, and therefore, the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Planning approved a scheme to fund an Israeli architect to work in a plan to construct 840 housing units in Giva’t Eitam outpost. 

During 2014, the Israeli settlers living in Giv’at Eitam outpost escorted by the Israeli Occupation Authorities worked on the site by adding several structures, in a step to construct a new colonial neighborhood to be a part of Efrat settlement, where the outpost located within the master plan of Efrat settlement.

What is happening to expand the settlement of Efrat, is a clear evidence to the exchanging of roles strategy between the Israeli settlers and the Israeli occupation authorities where on the 15th  of January of 2015, the Israeli Occupation Army and bulldozers stormed An-Nahla area and razed 30 dunums of agricultural land for the construction of a colonial road links between “Givat Eitam” outpost and Efrat settlement, in a proactive action to expand the settlement.



Prepared by:  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Settlement Expansion