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Israeli bulldozers raze large tracts of land in West Bank

Israeli bulldozers today razed large tracts of Palestinian-owned land in Iskaka and Yasuf villages, located to the east of the West Bank city of Salfit, according to a local source.

Head of Iskaka Village Council Fawzi Lami said that Israeli forces escorted bulldozers to the eastern area of the village, known as Khallet Ghanayem, where the heavy machines leveled the land to make room for the expansion of the nearby colonial settlement outpost of Nofei Nehemia, built on land confiscated from the village.

Located some five kilometers to the east of Salfit city, Iskaka has a population of some 1,280 and occupies a total area of 5,476 dunams.

Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement made 25 years ago that was supposed to last just five years towards a self-governing country alongside Israel, the Palestinian Authority was given limited control over a pocket of land occupying 1,366 dunams, accounting for almost 25 percent of the village’s total area.  Israel maintains control over the remainder 4,110 dunams, classified as Area C, accounting for 75 percent.

Israel has seized at least 181 dunams of the village land for the establishment of Ariel colonial settlement, west of the village, in addition to more tracts of land from the south of the village to construct a settler-only road that connects Ariel and Rechelim colonial settlements.

The Nofei Nehemia outpost lies adjacent to the Rechalim colonial settlement, and is located within its boundaries. It together with the nearby colonial settlements of Rechalim, Kfar Taphuh, Eli, Shilo and Migdalim and 23 other Israeli outposts in the area form a bloc of settlements and outposts that act like a territorial contiguity between Ariel settlement bloc in the west and the Jordan Valley area in the east. Such a bloc will cut off the territorial contiguity of the Palestinian communities surrounding them and eventually annex the land available to Palestinians to expand in the future.