HEBRON: Creeping Annexation spreading East and West from Wadi al-Ghroos

January 9, 2003
HEBRON: Creeping Annexation spreading East and West from Wadi al-Ghroos

By Jerry Levin

Settler intentions are becoming clearer with respect to the latest round of
land confiscations taking place in three currently unconnected areas
bordering the northwestern and northern edge of Kiryat Arba. (Kiryat Arba,
on the eastern edge of Hebron, is the oldest Israeli settlement in the West
Bank.) The probable purpose of this "creeping annexation" is to prepare the
land for construction of new sections of Israel's southern "security fence."

When the sections are connected, large portions of about six hundred dunams
of Palestinian farm land will be swallowed up. (A dunam equals one quarter
of an acre.) Land clearing and leveling activities in those areas are being
stopped only temporarily by 1) local Palestinian landowner appeals to
military authorities and/or Israeli courts, and 2) on site protests by
Palestinian and international human rights activists, including CPT.

The first of the affected areas will provide space for a short but critical
section of the new fence to be erected on a swath of farmland that parallels
the south side of the roadway connecting Kiryat Arba's main western entrance
to the major north south Israelis-only bypass road. Although just fifteen
meters wide, the fence will swallow up an already modest but fruitful plot
of Palestinian farmland owned and tilled for generations by the same family.
It will lie within a few feet of their house. Because of the nearness of the
house and land to the intersection of the bypass road and the entrance to
Kiryat Arba, settlers have tried to scare the family into leaving for years.
Harassment has included fire bombing their house, attacks on family members,
sexual threats, and destruction of crops.

Years ago, when settlers first established Kiryat Arba, the family lost an
even bigger portion of their meager land hold when the settlers built the
entrance road on their land. Despite these losses, however, the family
intends to stay.

The second section being prepared for the fence begins at the northwest
corner of the Kiryat Arba entrance road and will connect with the land
encirclement currently in progress about a quarter mile away in Wadi
al-Ghroos. (See December 19 release, "Creeping Annexation Continues in Wadi
al-Ghroos.) Palestinian farmers and landowners will lose about 400 dunams
to this section.

Work suddenly began December 29 on a third area lying to the east of the
Wadi al-Ghroos construction the other side of the settler-only road
connecting Harsina settlement to the north to Kiryat Arba. A bulldozer and a
backhoe began carving out a zigzag swath of land outside the northeastern
entrance to Kiryat Arba. It is snaking northward up the Beqa'a Valley to an
already completed section of the security fence running westward to the
Harsina Kiryat Arba connector road. When finished, the fence will encircle
about a hundred dunams of land, belonging to various members of the Jaber