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Israel to expropriate Palestinian land for settlement expansion in northern West Bank

Nov. 14, 2017 4:08 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 3:25 P.M.)
A bulldozer is seen next to a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa (background) in east Jerusalem on March 19, 2014 (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities on Tuesday reportedly notified Palestinian farmers that they intend to expropriate plots of land near the village of Shofeh, southeast of Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank, in order to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Avnei Hefetz.

Official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency reported that Israeli authorities informed the Palestinian liaison office that the state intends to use land in the village in order to open roads and build playgrounds and other recreational facilities for Avnei Hefetz.

The farmers were reportedly given 60 days to appeal the decision in Israeli courts.

According to Wafa, the farmers of Shofeh “expressed real concern over the decision” to “rip them off the land that is their only source of income.”

The farmers told Wafa that while they have the papers to prove their ownership of the land, “they do not expect the Israeli courts to be fair to them.”

Wafa added that the Israeli army seized lands from the village in March to build a power station and industrial area.

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

Meanwhile, Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that in 2016 Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions since the group began recording the incidents.

At the same time, Peace now reported that Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 34 percent in 2016, with Israeli authorities initiating construction on 1,814 new settler housing units.

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