Settlers Establish a new Outpost near Beit ‘Awwa and the IDF Blocks the Roads for Palestinians
Last July (starting from Sunday, July 23, 2023), settlers from the nearby Negohot Farm outpost established a new outpost adjacent to the western edge of the Palestinian village of Beit ‘Awwa, located to the west of Hebron. The settlers took over an area of dozens of dunams for agriculture, employing heavy machinery and escorted by the army. Subsequently, temporary structures were erected at the site, and settlers are now permanently stationed there. The new outpost is approximately 50 meters from a cluster of Palestinian homes.
About two and a half weeks after the commencement of land preparation work on Thursday, August 10, 2023, the military, with settler accompaniment, installed earth mounds that blocked the only road leading to six homes and extensive agricultural lands in the area. The blockade consists of the placement of four dirt mounds along the road, preventing the passage of private vehicles. Since then, the residents of the homes cannot reach them by car and are forced to walk several hundred meters uphill to the nearest road. As a result, residents must carry water, supplies, food, and electrical equipment on their backs or donkeys, and the sick cannot access medical care.
Since the establishment of the outpost, residents have been threatened by settlers. In one documented case, soldiers threatened a Palestinian family with weapons and prevented them from sitting near their house, because of their proximity to the outpost. Since the beginning of the war in Gaza, Palestinians have been prevented from accessing extensive areas around the new outpost.
The municipality of Beit ‘Awwa, along with a group of residents and Peace Now, submitted a petition to the Supreme Court (HCJ 7075/23) through Adv. Michael Sfard, demanding the opening of the road and the removal of the blockade on the residents. The court will hear the case on January 29th.
Peace Now: “The establishment of the new outpost has had severe consequences on the lives of Palestinians in the area. The military’s involvement with the settlers, through securing illegal activities and blocking Palestinian roads, is unbearable. Instead of halting the settlers and preventing the establishment of illegal outposts and roads in an area that affects the future of the State of Israel and regional security stability, the IDF is assisting lawbreakers. It is time to put an end to lawlessness in the territories and dismantle the illegal outposts.”
The purpose of the outpost: to kick Palestinians away
The newly established outpost adjacent to the homes of Beit ‘Awwa residents serves as one of many examples of how these outposts impact the lives of Palestinian residents. Since the outpost’s establishment, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have closed access roads to extensive agricultural areas and Palestinian homes. Additionally, Palestinian residents report cases where they are prevented from sitting outside their homes or accessing nearby picnic areas.
The settlers do not hide their intentions behind the creation of such agricultural outposts. This new outpost was established by settlers from the nearby Negohot Farm outpost, an agricultural outpost set up south of Negohot in 2018. In a conference organized by the “Amana” settler organization, a group behind the construction of hundreds of outposts and settlements, in February 2021, Amana leader Zeev Hever explained how agricultural outposts are intended to limit Palestinian presence in the area:
“What you heard today from Haggai Nissim about Negohot is an example of a situation where, if we didn’t take this action, in the very near future, we would be left with a settlement where Arabs would come in from all around… All state lands, thousands of dunams around it, would be captured and cultivated. Today, the situation has reversed, today we have the initiative in our hands, we have a Jew who works all day at the forefront of preserving the land.”
In other words, the purpose of these agricultural outposts is to distance Palestinians from the surrounding land. In the case of Beit ‘Awwa, it is an almost entirely enclosed town: to the north, there is the village of Dir Samet; to the west, the separation barrier erected by Israel; and to the south, the access road to the Negohot settlement. The only undeveloped area left for Beit ‘Awwa to expand is to the east. The new outpost was established precisely in the area east of Beit ‘Awwa, blocking the town’s development possibilities.
Palestinian Roads Blocked, New Settler Roads Paved
Since the beginning of the war in Gaza settlers have paved at least two new roads between the new outpost and the Negohot settlement. These roads were paved in violation of the law, without proper planning, and without construction permits. In contrast to the well-kept roads used by settlers, the rough and long dirt road that served Palestinian residents has been blocked.