Land Leveling in Wadi Fukin village West of Bethlehem Governorate

Land Leveling in Wadi Fukin village West of Bethlehem Governorate


On September 28, 2016,the Israeli bulldozers accompanied by military vehicles stormed Wadi Fukin village west of Bethlehem Governorate and stationed in the northern parts of the village.

Without prior notification the Israeli bulldozers started razing 22 dunums pieces of lands owned by the local residents Mahmoud Mohammad Khalil ‘Bedallah, Youseph Mohammad Khalil ‘Bedallah and Mohammad Abdel Majeed ‘Bedallah.

ARIJ field workers interviewed Mahmoud Youseph ‘Bedallah one of the owner of the targeted lands, where he indicated that they were surprised by the Israeli bulldozers razing their lands and destroying about 50 olive trees and 2 water wells without a prior notification.

Mr. ‘Bedallah added that either he , or his relatives did not receive any notification concerning their lands , where they used to cultivate them dozens of years ago.

Mr. ‘Bedallah provided that before about 30 years the Israeli authorities tried to expropriate their lands under the pretext “state land declaration, while they submitted against the decision to the Israeli Supreme court which proved their ownership of the lands and canceled the aforementioned expropriation. See the map below:


Map of the targeted land in Wadi Fukin

In an analysis conducted by the Geo-informatics Department at ARIJ , we can find that the targeted land located in a strategic open space area between the illegal settlements of Bitar  I’lit, Hadar Bitar via Green Line and the settlement of Tzur Hadasa. Moreover, the targeted 22 dunums of lands never lie within what is so-called state land and accordingly the Israeli attempts to capture the land under the state property expropriation is null and void. See the pictures below:


Photos captured by ARIJ fieldworkers for the razed lands in Wadi Fukin


Wadi Fukin village, with an area of 4346 Dunums of land, is one of the nine Palestinian villages located in the western part of Bethlehem Governorate. It lies 8 km away from Bethlehem center and approximately 16 km from East Jerusalem, and 0.5 km from the 1949 Armistice Line (the Green Line). The village houses a total population of 1,470 (PCBS projections 2016). Wadi Fukin village is one of the many Palestinian villages depopulated and destroyed during the 1948 war and was later rebuilt in the early 1970s when its original residents returned back to their lands to rebuilt their village.

Due to the semi mountainous lands, Wadi Fukin has rich agricultural lands, good grazing areas and open spaces to utilize, which reflect the good productivity of Grapes, fruits, Almond, and olive Oil.


The Israeli Colonial Activities in Wadi Fukin

Today, two illegal Israeli settlements: Hadar Bitar to the east and Bitar ‘Illit to the southeast are neighboring the Palestinian village of Wadi Fukin. The two settlements were established on lands originally owned by Palestinians and continued to expand throughout the years on the expense of the village lands.

More than that the Israeli bypass road #375 encircled the northeastern parts of Wadi Fukin where this bypass road stretches from the northeast of Wadi Fukin, heads towards the northeast and north edges of Betar Illit and Hadar Betar settlements to finally intersect with bypass road 60 (the main north-south artery of the West Bank).


The Segregation Wall at Wadi Fukin

According to the latest Segregation Wall updated map issued by the Israeli Ministry of Defense on April 30, 2007, the entire western rural villages of Bethlehem was isolated from Bethlehem governorate, Battir and Husan villages were set to be entrapped in one ghetto, Nahalin in another Ghetto, Al Jaba to be included within Hebron governorate, cutting it off from Bethlehem Governorate and as for Wadi Fukin, it was excluded separately in an enclave between the Israeli settlements and the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line).


Expropriation of 1152 Dunums from Wadi Fukin Village Lands

On August 31, 2014, 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 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.

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.

The issued Israeli military orders 178 & 179 (20 dunums) as well as military order Absentee Property – Judea and Samaria- 59/1967 (3799 dunums) and the 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.


ARIJ Detected Mass Construction in Tzur Hadasa & Hadar Bitar Settlements Adjacent to Wadi Fukin

On September 28, 2016, ARIJ field workers detected an enormous expansion in the illegal settlements of Hadar Bitar and Tzur Hadasa specifically on the nearby lands of Wadi Fukin village. See the photos below:



Legal & International Status

With no “military necessity”  justifications , the Israeli systematic targeting and destroying of the Palestinian properties constitute a flagrant and grave breach for the International law rules and conventions (Art. 51 of the 1949 Geneva Convention II –Art. 147 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV- Art. 53 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV-Art. 23(g) of the 1899 Hague Regulations – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of, December 10, 1948, Articles 13 and 17 and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December 1966  :-


  • Articles 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.
  • 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;.
  • 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.'
  • Article 147 of the convention considers 'extensive destruction and appropriate of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly' as a grave breach of the Convention and thus constitute a war crime.
  • Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of, December 10, 1948, Article 17 reads: 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.' Which means it bans Israel from destroying or confiscating the property of the Palestinians at any case.
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. 
  • Article 12' of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December 1966: Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.


Prepared By  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem