West Bank Settlers Stealing Tons of Soil From Palestinians

The illegal settlements on Palestinian land needs to end.

This is not a new plea.

Many Western nations agree that what Israel does is illegal, and understands that there is no way to have peace in the region until Israel withdraws the settlements, and stops the actions it seems to condone with such relish.

The stealing of soil is just another example of policies that are engrained into the systematic undermining of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government.  When I read this today I should have been surprised.  But nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to the never-ending events aimed at only further frustrating and destroying chances for the Palestinian people.  One knows that if there had been an olive tree on the land in question it would have been stolen too.

Roughly a month ago, infrastructure work began in one of the house-trailer neighborhoods in the West Bank settlement of Ofra. Brown soil was needed to cover the foundations. In properly functioning places, such soil is bought and paid for, but not in Ofra. Tzvi, a local farmer, nicknamed “Kishu,” found an alternative: He sent a rented tractor and truck to the outskirts of the settlement, next to the Palestinian villages of Silwad and Deir Dibwan, where they simply stole dirt. Tzvi claims that the land belongs to him.

 The theft was made possible – even easy – by the fact that wide expanses of land belonging to Deir Dibwan and Silwad are enclosed within Ofra’s security fence, and the villages’ residents do not have free access to their own fields. Entry into Ofra requires coordination with the Israel Defense Forces and a constant security escort. The fence, like many parts of Ofra, was built without any permits.

 In 2009 and 2010, residents of Silwad and Deir Dibwan petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice, demanding that the illegal sections of the fence be dismantled. The IDF responded to the petition, confirming that the fence was in fact built without permits and unnecessarily closes off land owned by others. At the same time, the army asked for time to build a new, modern security fence, closer to the houses in Ofra. The IDF requested until the end of 2012 to finish the job, but no work has yet begun at the site.

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