HEBRON, July 24, 2016 (WAFA) – An Israeli court Sunday rejected an appeal submitted by a Palestinian from Masafer Yatta to the south of Hebron, against the takeover of his privately-owned land, according to an activist.
Coordinator of the anti wall and settlement popular committee in Hebron, Rateb al-Jabour, said an Israeli court rejected an appeal submitted by Husain al-Hamamdeh through various human rights organizations against the takeover of almost 100 dunums of his privately-owned land.
The Israeli authorities claim that the land is mountainous and underutilized and that based on the Ottomans’ law it is considered a property of the [Israeli] government.
According to the Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, “Over the years, Israel has used a number of legal and bureaucratic procedures in order to appropriate West Bank lands, with the primary objective of establishing settlements and providing land reserves for them.”
“Using primarily these five methods: seizure for military purposes; declaration of state lands; seizure of absentee property; confiscation for public needs; and initial registration, Israel has managed to take over about 50% of the lands in the West Bank, barring the local Palestinian public from using them.”
Peace Now said, “Once the procedure of military seizure was no longer valid for the purpose of acquiring lands for settlement, a new legal procedure, based on a local interpretation of Ottoman law, was implemented to declare extensive areas in the West Bank as “State Lands.”
Over the years, Israel confiscated more than 900,000 dunams in the West Bank in this manner, and at least 90 settlements are built on lands declared as “state lands.”
To be noted, According to the Ottoman law code, which Israel makes use of in the West Bank, all lands are considered “State Land” unless proven otherwise.
The group stated that, “To formally register land as private property, one must cultivate it for at least ten years. If the land is not registered, one would be considered the owner as long as he cultivates it and pays taxes on it. If the land is not cultivated for three successive years, it may become the property of the Ottoman State, i.e. “State Land”.
Israel has also exploited the fact that during the Ottoman period only small parts of the land of the West Bank were formally registered to a specific owner.