Israeli settlers in Hebron construct new outpost 12Sep09 September 14, 2009

IMEMC  -  12 September 2009


International observers in the Hebron area have reported that Israeli settlers living in violation of international law in the South Hebron Hills, in the southern West Bank, have constructed five new caravan trailers in an attempt to further expand the Ma’on settlement.

The international observers, with the Christian Peacemaker Teams stationed in the Hebron area, say that they noticed the new caravan trailers several days ago. They added that on Friday, Israeli settlers were spotted on a hillside even further outside the existing settlement, beginning preparatory work of clearing land to construct more caravans there.

This settlement expansion, which is ignored by the Israeli government charged with preventing it, comes at a time when the international community is calling for a freeze on new building in settlements and the disbanding of settlement outposts.

Over the past three months, internationals have also observed settlers constructing numerous new buildings in the nearby illegal Israeli outposts of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833) and Avigail.

According to the Christian Peacemaker Teams, since its establishment in 1981, Ma’on settlement has been a source of violence towards local Palestinians. The agricultural orchards of Ma’on are cultivated on private land belonging to a family from the nearby Palestinian village of At Tuwani. By 1997, ongoing settler violence forced the Palestinian inhabitants of three nearby villages (Sarura, Humra and Kharoubeh) to abandon their homes.

The original outpost of Havat Ma’on was established in July 1999, but was dismantled in September of that year by the Israeli military. The following year, the outpost was re-established on a nearby hilltop, Hill 833, and has remained and grown since then. Avigail outpost was established in 2001.

Settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on attack and harass Palestinian children from Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed traveling to and from school in At Tuwani. In 2004, following two attacks on internationals accompanying the children, the Israeli Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights affirmed the need for a military escort for the school children. The escort continues five years later. Settlers from Avigail and Havat Ma’on outposts also regularly attack Palestinian shepherds grazing their sheep.

Israeli settlers living in the Hebron area have the highest rates of violence against the indigenous Palestinian population of any Israeli settlers in the West Bank. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are constructed on land seized from the indigenous population by ongoing military force, and are thus considered illegal under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.


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