Two months ago, Central Command Major General Nitzan Alon signed an order for seizure of the land adjacent to the settlement, for security purposes, covering an area of 63 dunam around the settlement. The land belongs to residents of the villages Awarta and Rujayb, and now the owners cannot enter their agricultural fields without prior coordination with military officials.
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The order allows Palestinians access to a small area to which they have not been allowed entry so far, but because land that was taken borders a large part of the security path – this actually legitimizes the seizure of these private lands.
Since the 2011 murders of the Fogel family in Itamar by Awarta residents, the IDF has changed the security layout of the settlement, and the seizure of the lands was part of this re-evaluation.
In red – the disputed land and the security trail
The military said the selected route looks for a balance between security needs and rights of the individuals, and stressed that its purpose was the building of a security fence and path around the settlement, aimed at improving its protection. According to the army, the move does not change the status of the land between the fence and the settlement.
"You cannot punish the entire village and label them murderers because of the actions of two," said Samir Abdat, a resident of Awarta who owned some of the agricultural land which was seized. He discounted the possibility that he could currently access his land, even after coordination with the military, noting that in the last three years he has not entered the area, partly because clashes with settlement residents led to the removal of the Palestinians.
The rights organization B'tselem commented, "Instead of enforcing the law on settlers who illegally entered the trail, authorities cooperate and facilitate the robbery after-the-fact. The army must find a way to protect the settlers of Itamar in a way that will not critically harm the livelihood of the owners of the Palestinian land.”
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