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Israeli military threatens village after residents protest settler bypass road

Feb. 13, 2016 10:14 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2016 7:07 P.M.)
A Palestinian youth hurls a stone at Israeli forces following a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel, on Dec. 20, 2013 in the occupied West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum in the Qalqilya district. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File)
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces raided the occupied West Bank village of Izbat al-Tabib overnight Friday after residents demonstrated against the construction of a settler bypass road on their private land.

Head of the village’s local council, Bayan Tabib, told Ma’an that residents had protested during the day Friday after Israeli forces announced plans to confiscate their land to build a new road serving illegal Israeli settlements in the area.

Tabib said Israeli military forces then stormed the Qalqiliya-area village in the night, searching several homes including his own.

When the forces arrived to his home, an Israeli officer reportedly threatened the village council head to stop residents from demonstrating near route 55, the settler bypass road where locals had protested earlier that day.

“An Israeli officer, who said he was the deputy commander of the Qalqiliya area, notified me that Israel won’t accept any more demonstrations on route 55,” Tabib said.

“He threatened to take punitive procedures against me including the demolition of my house if I continue to coordinate the demonstrations,” Tabib added.

The village council head told Ma’an that Izbat al-Tabib residents planned to continue “peaceful activities in protest against the confiscation of their land and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.”

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that "assailants" in Izbat al-Tabib had "hurled Molotov cocktails at security forces in the area," who responded by "searching the area for suspects, who fled the scene."

Much of the village's land has been slowly taken over since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 and the majority of homes in the village -- located in Area C under full Israeli military control -- are slated for demolition, as residents were forced to build without permits, as they were unable to obtain them from the Israeli authorities.

The illegal Israeli settlement of Alfe Menashe meanwhile has continued to expand to the village's south.

According to Tabib, around 25 acres of private Palestinian land in the villages of Azzun, Nabi Ilyas and Izbat at-Tabib are slated for confiscation before being reappropriated as a road connecting to nearby settlements.

Such construction of bypass roads is ongoing throughout the occupied West Bank, where roads limited for use only by settlers and Israeli military cut across private Palestinian land in order to connect a vast network of Jewish-only settlements.

The three villages identified by Tabib as facing land confiscation for the new bypass road are already cut off from neighboring Palestinian villages by the Israeli separation wall, which completely encircles the nearby Palestinian city of Qalqiliya.

Meanwhile, Palestinian locals have limited access to route 55 -- where Izbat al-Tabib residents have demonstrated several times before -- despite its construction across Palestinian land.

A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activity in the Territories was not immediately available for comment on the land confiscation.
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