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Israeli settlers take over Palestinian lands in Salfit, erect illegal outpost

June 7, 2017 12:10 P.M. (Updated: June 7, 2017 5:33 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma’an) -- A group of settlers from Israel’s illegal Nufim settlement erected an outpost on Tuesday on Palestinian lands in the Khirbet Shihada area in the eastern outskirts of the village of Deir Istiya in the occupied West Bank district of Salfit. 

Local activist Nathmi Salman told Ma’an that the settlers erected 13 tents and a number of wooden caravans on Palestinian land owned by residents of Deir Istiya. 

Salman added that a road equipped with electricity and lights was previously built to connect Nufim to the Palestinian lands where the outpost was then constructed. 

Palestinian farmers in Deir Istiya said that they were also threatened from going near the area by an armed Israeli settler.

Despite outposts being considered illegal even under Israeli domestic law, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost Regularization law, which would pave the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts. Meanwhile, the estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

Rights groups have often pointed out that the illegal outposts are erected in strategic locations, often times acting as a corridor between government-approved settlements, to more easily expand the settlements in the future. 

Coordinator of a popular resistance group against Israeli settlements Rizq Abu Nasser told Ma’an that the lands of Khirbet Shihada have been isolated from residents of Deir Istiya since 2001 after a road connecting the village to their lands in Khirbet Shihada was taken over by Israel's Havat Yair settlement. 

Havat Yair was also first established on the lands of Deir Istiya as an illegal outpost in 1999, and was slated for evacuation multiple times by Israeli authorities. However, the Israeli government eventually retroactively legalized the outpost.

The new illegal outpost in Salfit was erected amid Israeli plans to advance some 2,500 illegal settler housing units across the occupied West Bank, including building units in in Amichai, Israel’s first new official settlement in more than two decades

Another one of the plans up for discussion will be the retroactive legalization of the illegal outpost of Kerem Rein, while other reports have stated that the outpost could even possibly be expanded.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in violation of international law. The expansion of settlements and the growth of their population is typically paralleled with an increase in Israeli settler threats and attacks on Palestinians and their properties. 

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016. OCHA has recorded 56 such attacks since the beginning of the year.
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