Israeli civil administration remapped 62,000 West Bank hectares to expand settlements

PNN/ Jerusalem/

The Israeli civil administration in 2015 has re-mapped an area of 62 thousand hectares in the West Bank in order to expand illegal Israeli settlements. The old maps are being digitally scanned to enhance their accuracy.

The report, composed by Dror Etkes, founder of Kerem Navot, an NGO that monitors the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, is based over the map digitizing at COGAT.

“It’s important to understand that the mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively at the depth of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and to settlements which are well outside the ‘settlement clusters,’ as well as, most emphatically, to areas declared by Israel to be ‘fire zones’ despite the fact that in reality they are part of the lands reserve which Israel gradually assigns to settlement,” Etkes told Ha’aretz.

The re-mapping effort of those 62 thousand hectares constitutes a significant increase in the rate of this work, compared with only 20 thousand hectares re-mapped in 2014 and 13 thousand in 2013.

Ha’aretz speculates that one of the goals of the new, wholesale re-mapping effort, is intended to deny Arabs living in the fire zones the right to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against infrastructure and construction work carried out near their homes. Should such appeals be filed, Israel would be within its rights to argue that the Arab homes were built after the area had been declared state land.

Etkes also suggests that the re-mapping of areas near Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria indicates planned expansions. He noted 962 hectares re-mapped near Nokdim, and 3 hectares outside Gitit.