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Israel halts work on donor-funded agricultural road near Bethlehem

Sept. 17, 2017 3:39 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 18, 2017 1:27 P.M.)
An officer from the Israeli Civil Administration documents damage after Israeli settlers destroy olive trees in the village of Burin on June 25. (Photo: Rabbis for Human Rights)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces ordered Palestinians to stop work on opening an agricultural road in the village of al-Khader south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Authority's Wafa news agency.

Local activist Ahmad Salah in al-Khader told Wafa that Israeli forces issued the stop-work order against a road that is being constructed to serve several Palestinian farmers in the area, which was funded by the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation through Cooperation for Peace and Progress (CPP).

Israeli soldiers informed workers from the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees that their vehicles and tools would be confiscated if work on the road continued.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit in charge of civil administration in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an that "illegal road work was found in Area C, south of Al-Khader, which did not receive the approval of the certified authorities. The Civil Administration clarified that should the work continue, enforcement will be take place in accordance to the law."

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control -- are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.
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