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Israeli army erects guard post in PA-controlled area to protect commuting settlers

Sept. 25, 2017 9:25 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 7, 2017 9:20 P.M.)
A new guard post in Khursa (Source: Peace Now)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli army has established a guard post in the center of a village in the southern occupied West Bank that is supposed to be under full Palestinian Authority control, according to Israeli human rights organization Peace Now.

Peace Now said Monday that the pillbox was erected several weeks ago in the village Khursa west of Hebron city, so that the army can protect Israelis living in the illegal Negohot settlement who drive through the PA-controlled area as a shortcut to Jerusalem.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the case to provide comment.

Under domestic Israeli law, it is illegal for Israelis to enter Area A, the 18 percent of the occupied West Bank that was designated to be under full PA control by the Oslo Accords.

"The placing of a guard post in Area A is a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords and shows the length the Israeli government is willing to go in order to help a handful of settlers take a shortcut on their way home,” Peace Now wrote in a press release Monday.

“The new IDF (Israeli army) guard post illustrates, yet again, that the settlements do not contribute to Israel's security, but rather pose a national security burden," the group, which focuses on Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, argued.

Peace Now noted that Israel has long violated the Oslo Accords on a daily basis, primarily by conducting overnight detention raids inside Area A, but said the permanent guard post represented a new violation.
The sign at the entrance to the road, indicating that the road leads to Area A (Source: Peace Now)

The road in which the guard post was placed connects the occupied West Bank’s main artery, Route 60, and the village of Beit Awwa in Hebron’s western outskirts.

According to Peace Now, in the late 1990s after the establishment of the Negohot settlement, settlers have been pressuring the Israeli government to be able to use it to shorten travel time to Jerusalem. The Israeli army later allowed settlers to pass through with a military escort only, but settlers began to use the road without authorization anyway.

“Beyond violating the Oslo Accords, the placing of the guard post creates a permanent Israeli presence in Area A, something which will affect the lives of Palestinians in the area. The residents of Khursa find themselves today dealing with constant IDF presence nearby them which is likely to lead to increased tensions and confrontations,” Peace Now added.

Furthermore, unlike Israeli settlers, the freedom of movement of Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank is severely restricted by hundreds of military checkpoints and other barriers, being banned from using settler-only roads, and Israel's permit regime that largely prevents Palestinians from visiting Jerusalem or Israel without difficult-to-obtain Israeli permission.
(Source: Peace Now)

Peace Now also pointed out that the Negohot settlement itself is considered illegal under domestic Israeli law.

Hundreds of settler outposts constructed in occupied Palestinian territory are considered illegal by the Israeli government, but each of the some 196 government-approved Israeli settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have also been established in direct violation of international law.

“The (Negohot) settlement does not have construction plans and thus construction in it is considered illegal. In 2013, a jurisdiction was approved for the settlement and a retroactive legalization process of the settlement in currently underway,” Peace Now said.

Israel’s so-called Regularization law was passed by the Israeli parliament in February, and 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.

The Israeli parliament recently called on the Israeli Supreme Court to uphold the law, which would retroactively legalize thousands of illegal Israeli settlement homes that have been built on Palestinian land, in response to petitions filed by human rights groups demanding the law's annulment.
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