The so-called Israeli District Construction and Housing Committee approved a plan to expand the “Har Gilo” settlement with 560 new settlement units, in addition to approving the expansion of the main road of the Walaja bypass road near Bethlehem, in the southern West Bank. To connect the new bypass road with the “Gush Etzion” settlement bloc in Jerusalem to the south.
The decision comes one day after the unveiling of an old cemetery, which Palestinian workers believe is an Islamic cemetery located on the slopes of the “Gilo” settlement, and a Jewish religious group submits a request to stop construction and digging in that area, fearing that they might be Jewish graves, so the budget for the construction of part of the street was frozen. The aforementioned bypass and the construction of a school and playgrounds for the settlers in that expansion in the settlement that devours large swaths of Palestinian lands in Bethlehem, Walaja, and between Jala and reaches the outskirts of Battir.
According to the committee, “part of the budget for a plan to build playgrounds and a school on the slopes of Gilo, worth 55,000 shekels, has been frozen due to the presence of ancient graves in the area. This decision will be subject to review after examining the cemetery after the Jewish holidays on 9/28/2020, according to the text of the decision.” That area, “Murdot Gilo”, claimed that the plan was to build a municipal kindergarten on the slopes of Gilo, which was previously included in the project’s budget and promoted it at 555 thousand shekels, but because of the graves in the area and the conflicts that developed against the continued construction in the neighborhood by ultra-Orthodox elements , It was decided to deduct part of the budget.
And based on the decision of the District Committee, that this settlement belongs to the Jerusalem municipality – illegally – because it is behind the Green Line – the municipality today, Wednesday, asked members of the Finance Committee to agree to reduce the amount of 184 thousand shekels in the budget for the construction of parks. Playgrounds and that school with the expansion of the confiscated land to the west and south, of course at the expense of private Palestinian lands.
The settlement of Gilo is witnessing a large and unstoppable construction movement. Since 2016, 29 expansion operations have been approved in the settlement, whose population exceeds 50 thousand settlers, most of them from the religious Haredim – Canada, Australia and the Russians – and the largest of these expansion plans was what was approved in 2016 by expanding Gilo to the south, towards The Cremisan Valley, in parallel with the renewal of construction work for a section of the Separation Wall on the other side of the valley.
The expansion of Gilo to the south, in parallel with the construction of a section of the Apartheid Wall, allowed the creation of territorial and geographical contiguity between the settlement of Gilo, affiliated to the Jerusalem municipality, and the settlement of Har Gilo, affiliated to the Gush Etzion Regional Council. The Cremisan Valley – whose lands are part of the lands of the residents of Beit Jala, a vital source of livelihood and a vital place for their expansion – will apparently turn into a public area open to the residents of Gilo and Har Gilo.
This explains the false security arguments, which were used in the past decade to determine the route of the wall – which defined the “warning space” as a security need – arguments accepted by the Israeli Supreme Court justices, as well as the policy of annexing Palestinian lands to the sovereign space of Israel and the creeping annexation of West Bank lands.
(Source / 17.09.2020)