“Continuation of Israel’s policy of land expropriation”
The Israeli Court grants “Israel’s Defense Ministry” the green light to build the Segregation wall on lands of Cremisan
Long years overshadowed the efforts of the Palestinians to rescue the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala city from the construction of the Israeli Segregation Wall where on the 29th of January 2016, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected the latest petitions submitted by Beit Jala Municipality and Palestinian landowners and the Salesian Sisters Convent against the Construction of the Wall on lands of Cremisan Valley near Beit Jala city and issued a decision which grants “Israel’s Defense Ministry” the green light to build a new section of the separation wall in the area under “security needs”. The Israeli court’s favorable opinion on wall construction will ultimately cause the isolation of Cremisan Green area from its owners, to become on the Israeli side of the wall; while denying Palestinians their right to access the land.
In their petitions, Palestinians of Beit Jala city and the sisters convent requested the Israeli court to order the Israeli “Ministry of Defense” to disclose the whole plan of the Segregation Wall in Cremisan Area before it commences the construction of the wall to avoid any unfair solution that might deny Palestinians their right to access their lands and work places in the future, by being to object the final path of the Segregation Wall once presented by the Israeli occupation Army if the path does not preserve their right to access their lands in any way possible.
The Israeli court’s decision came separate from wall constructions that are taking place in Bir Onha neighborhood in Beit Jala city these days. For more information, read here: The once- quite neighborhood is facing the jaws of Israel’s Bulldozers
Chronology Events in Cremisan Valley of Beit Jala
The latest revised route of the Israeli Segregation Wall published on the so- called “Israeli Ministry of Defense” website on the 30th of April, 2007, showed that the wall will annex the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala city to the illegally declared Jerusalem Municipality boundary of 1967,to become on the Israeli side of the wall, along with the Salesian Sisters monastery and the Monks Convent. The wall also annexes the settlements of Gilo, Har Gilo, Giv’at Hamatos and Har Homa to become on the Israeli side of the wall, under the full Israeli sovereignty. See Map 1
Later on the 13th of October 2011, the Beit Jala Municipality received two Israeli military orders stipulating a change in the route of the Segregation Wall of 2007 in the Cremisan Valley area. The first military order holds number 11/08/T and was issued on the 22nd of September 2011. The order, which was signed by Avi Mezrachi, Head of Israeli Central Command in the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank (that time), stipulated the confiscation of 37.3 dunums of lands to reroute the path of the wall in Beit Jala city, and most specifically, the section east of Har Gilo settlement.
While the second Israeli military order holds number ST/02/11 and was issued and signed by the director of the so called “Israeli Ministry of Defense” since the targeted land is located inside the unilaterally declared Jerusalem Municipality boundary; The order stipulated the confiscation of 15.2 dunums of lands of Beit Jala city to reroute the path of the Segregation wall in the area. See Map 2
The two issued military order indicated a change in the wall route in which the Wall will surround the sisters convent and the school affiliated to it from three directions (north, west and south), as well as a Palestinian house in the area owned by Citizen George al Al Alam, leaving all, the convent, the school and the house, on the Palestinian side of the wall with an open road to access the center of life in Beit Jala city. See Map 2
In August 2015, the Israeli machinery and bulldozers started leveling lands in Beit Jala city to resume the construction of the wall following a court order on the 6th of July 2015 allowing the Israeli occupation ministry of defense to commence the construction of the wall on lands of Beit Jala city. The Israeli bulldozers leveled lands and uprooted old Roman Olive trees in Bir Onah neighborhood and down the tunnel road (a section of the Israeli bypass road No. 60) owned by a number of Palestinian families in the area including Khalilieh, Al Shatleh, Abu Eid and Abumohor; where during the first week of August 2015, the Israeli Occupation Authorities team placed signs in many locations in Bir Onah neighborhood depicting the path of the wall in the area.
In December 2015, Israeli bulldozers started leveling the archaeological site of Khirbet al-Najjar in Beit Jala city as part of the preparations to construct the Segregation Wall in the area. For more information, read here: For the Construction of the Segregation Wall Land Leveling in Beit Jala North of Bethlehem Governorate
Workers at the site revealed that an ancient site dates back to the Roman and the Byzantine periods was discovered in the area. The site contains historical walls and a cluster of graves. Workers also revealed that human bones were found in the site and were later seized by the Israeli occupation Army to hide any possible archeological evidence in the area. See Map 3
Israel continues to seize Palestinian land under the guise of security and reduce available land for Palestinians to build and develop in the future with no regard to the negative implications on Palestinians.
Israel, as the occupying Power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is bound by international human rights law and international humanitarian law to the protect of Palestinians and their welfare, as such:-
La Hague convention of 1907(Hague regulations):
Clearly mentions and forbid the expropriation of properties belonging to residents in the occupied territories and oblige the occupying power to maintain public order, safety and to prohibit collective punishment. As it can be analyzed, the expropriation of land is a direct violation of Hague Regulations. The Hague Regulations mentions that the occupying power has the right to seize private property for military reasons only but not to expropriate it and to erect any settlements or new facts on these properties.
The Fourth Geneva Convention:
The fourth Geneva convention insists on the protection of civilians during the time of war, prohibition of violent acts against residents of occupied territories, collective punishment and protection of the private property. This convention was signed and ratified by Israel, while the Israeli bulldozers are demolishing homes, shaving and uprooting trees under the pretext of security and military reasons. The Geneva Convention also mentions that the occupying power is not allowed to transfer a part of its population into the occupied territories, while one of the reasons to extend the Segregation Wall to the east is to include more Jewish colonies west of this barrier
International Human Rights Law
On 3rd October 1991, the State of Israel ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Israel has already been the basis for a new jurisprudence from the UN Committee against Torture that monitors CAT in November 2001. The latter declared then for the first time forced evictions to be a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Israel also violates through its actions the rights to legal security of tenure, freedom from dispossession, participation and security. They are all internationally recognized elements of the Right to Adequate Housing. Therefore, Israel violates, inter alia, articles 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23 & 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; articles 2 & 11 of the ICESCR as well as General Comments 4 & 7 related to the latter; articles 1, 17.1 & 19 of the ICCPR; and article 16 of CAT.
The Israeli Occupation Authorities practices each day the policy of house demolishing, uprooting of trees and land confiscation. Most of the previous mentioned actions are mainly used today in order to provide more land and space for the construction of the wall. All those acts are violating the daily Palestinian human rights and not respecting the international standards that should be imposed by the international community. In many cases the Palestinians refer to the Israeli high court, while the answer is always related to military and security reasons and nothing great could be done on the ground.
Sometimes the high court takes a decision to delay or to freeze the seizure of land while the army bulldozers are working in the field (as in the case of Beit Jala city). In very few cases the high court was able to take a decision to by-pass the owners land so as not include within the wall, where the wall construction is never stopped.