SALFIT (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities prevented workers of the Salfit municipality in the central occupied West Bank on Monday from paving a new dirt road intended to help Palestinian farmers access their agricultural lands in the al-Thahar agricultural area in the northern outskirts of Salfit.
Salfit’s mayor Abd al-Karim Fattash told Ma'an that Israeli troops stormed the area twice while municipality crews were working on the road.
“The soldiers coerced workers and crews to stop work, claiming the road is too close to Israel’s separation wall,” which separates Salfit and the illegal Israeli Ariel settlement, Fattash said. Additionally, Israeli authorities claimed the area was part of Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the occupied Palestinian territory under full Israeli security and civilian control.
Fattash highlighted that when Israeli troops stormed the area the first time, they confiscated a bulldozer belonging to the municipality, which was later returned through coordination with the Palestinian liaison office, under the Israeli stipulation that the bulldozer would not be used to resume work on the road.
He added that after the Israeli troops withdrew, his crews and workers resumed work, but were stopped again by Israeli soldiers.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson from Israel’s Civil Administration told Ma'an that "Civil Administration forces identified a breach of an illegal way near Salfit," confirming that "the activity has been stopped" for being carried out in Area C without the permits required by Israel.
The spokesperson denied that a "tractor" or any other equipment had been confiscated.
Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build or work on land classified as Area C, leaving residents no choice but to construct roads and build their homes without permits.