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Israel delivers stop-work orders to Palestinians in northern Jordan Valley

Feb. 12, 2017 12:14 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2017 11:35 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities issued stop-work orders for 16 Palestinian-owned structures in the northern Jordan Valley village of Khirbet Humsa al-Fuqa in the occupied West Bank on Sunday morning, according to a local official.

Muataz Bisharat, who monitors settlement-related activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma'an that inspectors from the Israeli Civil Administration's planning and construction department stormed Khirbet Humsa al-Fuqa and delivered stop-work orders to 16 structures that belong to seven Palestinian families.

The warrants said the families had until Feb. 26 to heed the order.

Bisharat said the orders were delivered to Ali Freij Abu al-Kibash, Hakam Ali Freij Abu al-Kibash, Yasser Mahmoud Abu al-Kibash, Abdullah Muhammad Abu al-Kibash, Taysir Mahmoud Abu al-Kibash, Nasser Mahmoud Abu al-Kibash, and Sanad Yasser Abu al-Kibash.

A spokesperson from COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory told Ma'an that two warrants had been issued on Thursday "to stop construction of illegal buildings within military areas that did not receive approval from the authorities."

The incident came two days after Israeli forces delivered land confiscation notices for 275 dunams (69 acres) of private Palestinian land on the outskirts of the village of Beituniya near Ramallah, and also amid a spate of incidents targeting Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley, including settler attacks and a multiple home demolitions since the beginning of the year.

On Saturday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Palestinian shepherds in the northern Jordan Valley were attacked by a group of Israeli settlers and armed Israeli soldiers, which came about a month after settlers began erecting an illegal outpost in the area on private Palestinian land.

Over the course of 2016, settlers have made multiple attempts to seize lands in the area and acquire building permits. The newly erected outpost is inhabited by armed teenage boys who have been threatening the Palestinian shepherds and preventing them from taking their flocks to pasture, Haaretz reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have carried out demolitions in the Jordan Valley on at least seven occasions since the beginning of the year.

The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C -- under full Israeli military control. Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with the Jordan Valley’s Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies.

Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build in land classified as Area C, leaving residents no choice but to build their homes without permits.

Earlier this month, the Israeli government passed the outpost “Regularization law,” which paves the way for the retroactive legalization of settler outposts on occupied Palestinian territory previously considered illegal by Israeli law.

However, the 196 official Israeli settlements scattered across Palestinian land are not considered illegal in Israeli law, despite being routinely condemned for being a clear violation of international law.

The new law states that any settlements built in the occupied West Bank “in good faith” -- without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians -- could be officially recognized by Israel pending minimal proof of governmental support in its establishment and some form of compensation to the Palestinian landowners.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi stated at the time of the bill’s passing that the law gave “clear license to the settlers to embark on a land grab in the occupied West Bank with impunity.”

“Such a law signals the final annexation of the West Bank,” she said. “This also proves beyond doubt that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist, racist coalition government are deliberately breaking the law and destroying the very foundations of the two-state solution and the chances for peace and stability.”
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