HEBRON: Creeping Annexation Continues in Wadi al-Ghroos

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CPTnet
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December 19, 2003
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HEBRON: Creeping Annexation Continues in Wadi al-Ghroos
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<P>By Jerry Levin
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<P><P>A towering mound of rock and stone fill is growing higher just outside the
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northern edge of the West Bank's oldest Israeli settlement, Kiryat Arba.
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Purposefully being dumped onto adjacent Palestinian farmland in
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a shallow valley called Wadi al-Ghroos, the mound's looming presence marks
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the latest incremental phase in the expansion of the settlement's borders at
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the expense of its Palestinian neighbors. The fill is being used to surface
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thirty five-foot wide dirt swaths being bulldozed further and further down,
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into, and over the valley's fields, orchards, and vineyards.
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<P>Once the Israelis have completed the surfacing, they will install high wire
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fences equipped with electronic sensors for &quot;security reasons&quot; according to
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the settlers.
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<P>However, according to Palestinians, who are losing property and livelihood
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to Kiryat Arba, the roads and fences are being built, like those in the
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past, so that the settlers can &quot;steal our land.&quot;
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<P>Security for the settlers is an issue, because a former protective buffer
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&quot;security&quot; zone of land previously taken from Wadi al-Ghroos Palestinians,
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situated outside the settlement's former outer ring of housing, has
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disappeared beneath a long row of recently-built settler homes. So a
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replacement buffer security zone for this new outer ring is now in the
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process of being created.
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<P>There is an historic sameness to this process. For instance, each time a new
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expansion takes place, the Israeli authorities promise that Wadi al-Ghroos
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farmers that once the work is completed they will have access to their
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former plots. But in practice this has not been the case. In fact once the
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work begins, armed settlers begin to prevent them from working their land.
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So during the past year, farmers have lost a stretch of land at the
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northwest corner of Kiryat Arba extending about a quarter of the distance
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along its northern edges-- approximately 50 dunams. (Four dunams equal one
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acre.) Recently,
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bulldozers again began leveling paths for those new graveled roads along
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which more of those fences with their electronic sensors will be
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built, thus paving the way for the isolation of another fifty or so dunams
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along the settlements' northern edge.
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<P>Each time settlement boundaries push out from Kiryat Arba and into Wadi al
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Ghroos, affected families, through lawyers, lodge official complaints, which
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are eventually futile. So with respect to the current dispute, even though
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the Israeli Army has temporarily halted bulldozing, its restraining order
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has not affected the continued buildup of that growing mound of rock and
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stone fill. Dump trucks continue unhindered to add to the pile; so
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expectations are, as in the past, that more Wadi al-Ghroos'
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farmland, which Palestinians have lovingly and thankfully worked for
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generations, is destined to end up beyond their reach and benefit.
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<P>As a result, and notwithstanding &quot;Road Map&quot; prohibitions regarding
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settlement expansion, the process of creeping annexation of Palestinian land
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in Wadi al Ghroos, and elsewhere in the West Bank continues without pause.
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