Settlers are Rebuilding an Illegal Outpost West of Bethlehem

On Sunday, 24.12.23, settlers established a new outpost west of the Palestinian village of Battir, located west of Bethlehem. Similar to many agricultural farms, the site includes a truck serving as a residence, a large structure, and an additional building. The outpost has been established in the same location twice before and was evacuated immediately: in March 2022 and during the Christmas holiday of 2018 when settlers ascended to the same hill shortly after a new road was paved to the area.

Upon the establishment of the outpost, IDF soldiers began to distance Palestinian residents from the area, presumably to protect the settlers in the outpost. It is important to note that the outpost is situated approximately 500 meters away from the village of Battir and is considered a strategic and significant point for the settlers. The location of the outpost is part of an attempt to create a buffer of Israeli presence between the city of Bethlehem and the Palestinian villages to its west, namely Husan and Battir, aiming to prevent the possibility of a territorial continuum for a future Palestinian state (see map). In this area, two additional outposts were established in recent years: the Makhrour outpost (also known as ‘Neve Uri’) and the Eden Farm Outpost, and a plan for the expansion of the settlement Har Gilo (“Givat Hagamal“) was recently promoted.

It should be noted that the land on which the outpost was built was declared as ‘state land’ back in the 80s, but its boundaries have not undergone the required precision mapping by the ‘Blue Line Team.’ In addition, we are not aware of any legal rights granted to the settlers for the land, and they are likely considered trespassers on ‘state-owned’ property. In all previous instances where settlers entered this area, the Civil Administration evacuated them after a few days. There is a strong need that this time, too, the Civil Administration will not delay and will remove the trespassers promptly.

Approximately 1 km north of the new outpost, there is an agricultural farm outpost named ‘Neve Uri,’ (Makhrour outpost) established in 2019, also located on the lands of the village of Battir within the declared World Heritage Site.