January 21, 2003
HEBRON: Settlers seize 2000 dunams of Palestinian farmland around Givat Ha
by Jerry Levin
Israeli settlers from the two large settlements of Givat Ha Harsina and
Kiryat Arba, situated along Hebron's eastern edge, have escalated their
campaign of annexing Palestinian farmland lying between the two settlements.
Harsina, like most Israeli West Bank settlements, sits on top of a hill.
Settlers are erecting the new fence about four hundred meters (about one
quarter of a mile) downhill from the settlement's current fence line.
Guarded by Israeli soldiers and armed settlement security guards,settlers
operating bulldozers, backhoes, posthole diggers, and dump trucks have been
speedily tearing up, leveling, and graveling fifteen-meter wide swaths of
prime Palestinian farmland. Over these swaths they are laying down several
thousand meters of new high so called "security fences" equipped with
Palestinians living below the settlement told CPT that this latest expansion
began Monday, January 18th. CPTers Maureen Jack, Barbara Martens, Jerry
Levin, Art Gish, and CPT visitor Dorah Rosen went to Harsina where they
observed Asian laborers as well as teenage Israeli boys (who said they had
been given time off from school) slipping metal fence posts into newly dug
holes, cementing them in place, and then attaching ten foot high sections of
metal mesh fencing to the posts. One farmer, whose land and house is in the
path of the fence, reported how he could do nothing but stand by helplessly
and watch while one hundred olive trees and four wells
on his fifty-year-old farm were destroyed.
While following the route of the new fence, the CPTers encountered Abdel
Hadi Hantash, of the Hebron Land Defense Committee, a local expert on
annexation of Palestinian land. He estimated that about two thousand dunams
(one dunam=one quarter of an acre) around Harsina is in the process of being
annexed by the settlement. Added to a vast tract of thirty-five hundred
dunams running down from Harsina eastward to the settlers-only highway
running between Harsina and Kiryat Arba, Palestinians farming in the area
will have lost more than five thousand dunams in less than a year.
Harsina lies about a mile to the north of Kiryat Arba, where the pace of the
latest campaign of land annexation is also escalating. (See January 9
release, "Creeping Annexation spreading East and West from Wadi al Ghroos."
An initial estimate of the number of dunams affected there was a thousand.
Abdel Hadi Hantash remarked that combining those one thousand
dunams with about six hundred seized and fenced off last year, the total
number of annexed dunams between Kiryat Arba and Harsina comes to about
about six thousand five hundred.
If and when the two settlements' separate fencing systems are further
extended to a point where they actually connect, a southern West Bank
version of the more than one hundred mile "annexation wall" being rushed to
completion in the northern West Bank will become a sudden reality around
Kiryat Arba and Harsina.