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Israeli settlers reportedly level land west of Salfit to expand industrial zone

Aug. 27, 2017 4:19 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2017 7:49 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers reportedly leveled Palestinian land west of Salfit city in the central occupied West Bank on Sunday.

Arab 48 news site quoted witnesses as saying that bulldozers leveled farmlands and pastures, some of which was planted with olive orchards.

According to the report, the land is owned by the Islamic Endowment.

Villagers in the Salfit district told Arab 48 that the bulldozers leveled lands in an area known locally as Khallat al-Jami, part of which has already been developed by Israeli settlers to build a factory in the Ariel Industrial Zone, part of the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Ariel -- one of the largest settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The report quoted Khalid Maali, a researcher of settlement activity, as saying that lands razed on Sunday were an area considered by the Israeli state to be part of the industrial zone.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the body responsible for imposing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports..

Ma’an reported that Israeli bulldozers razed some 20 dunams (five acres) of Palestinian land to expand the industrial zone in March, and that Israeli authorities uprooted more than a dozen olive trees and leveled lands nearby in April.

Palestinian villages in the area, including Kafr al-Dik, Deir Ballut, Rafat, Sarta, and al-Zawiya, have seen vast tracts of land confiscated for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the western outskirts of the Salfit district over the years.

According to Bethlehem-based the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), at least 17 illegal Israeli settlements and four Israeli industrial zones have been constructed on Palestinian lands in Salfit.

As of last year, ARIJ reported that 700 hectares (1,730 acres) of land in Salfit have been confiscated for the construction of Israeli bypass roads -- roads which connect Israel’s illegal settlements to Jerusalem and Israel -- and agricultural roads, including a new bypass road currently being built to connect the Ariel settlement to Road 60 cutting through the Palestinian district of Nablus and into Jerusalem.
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