Israeli Army Razes Land near Bethlehem to Expand Apartheid Wall

BETHLEHEM, August 17, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli army Monday razed an agricultural land belonging to local Palestinians near the town of Beit Jala to the north of Bethlehem in preparation to expand the apartheid wall, according to local sources.

Witnesses told WAFA that an Israeli army force accompanied by two heavy machinery broke into the area, planted with olive trees, and proceeded to raze the land, which has an area of around 30 dunums, for the expansion of the separation wall following an Israeli court order to the change the route of the wall.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Eighty-five percent of the Israeli Separation Barrier is within the West Bank itself, not along the Green Line. In areas where the Separation Barrier has already been built, the extensive violations of human rights of Palestinians living nearby are evident.

It stresses that the construction of the Barrier has imposed new restrictions on movement for Palestinians living near its route, adding that thousands of Palestinians living there have difficulty reaching their fields and marketing their produce to other areas of the West Bank.

Away from this, B’Tselem says that the restrictions on freedom of movement caused by the Barrier also limit the access of Palestinian villagers to hospitals in nearby towns; “the educational system suffers because many schools, primarily village schools, depend on teachers who live outside the community and must commute to the school; also family ties and social connections are adversely affected.”