Destruction of Agricultural Land in Beit Ommar for Electricity to the Settlements
On October 17, 2009 AbdelHamid Ahmed Abu Maria, father of PSP activists Mousa and Yousef Abu Maria, was told that Israeli soldiers had arrived on his land near the Arroub Agricultural University with bulldozers. When Mousa and an international solidarity activist with PSP arrived in the area, they saw that Israeli forces had bulldozed more than 1.5 acres of agricultural land, belonging to Yousef Abdel-Izzat Abu Maria, Abdelhamid Ahmed Abu Maria, and Ahmed Mohammed Ikhlayl in order to build two large electricity towers. The position of the towers, part of a string of towers that have been constructed on a path between the Gush Etzion Israeli settlement bloc and the Israeli settlement of Kyriat Arba, has renewed fears of local residents that the Israeli military intends to carry out a long-reported plan to build an Israeli bypass road straight through the Arroub Agricultural University and Beit Ommar, connecting the two largest settlement blocs in the Southern West Bank. It is a grim reminder that while politicians debate a freeze on settlement expansion, it continues, along with the expansion of infrastructure for those settlements, which have irreversible effects on the ground.
This construction, and the destruction of grapevines on the land, was carried out totally illegally (even for Israel’s own standards). Local owners of the private land were given no notice of the construction, no chance to appeal (a technicality but one that should still be afforded) and have not been contacted at all. The families are considering legal action.