After 46 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Israeli settler population has exceeded 540,000 and continues to grow. Israel is currently engaged in the construction of more than 200 settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem. These settlements are connected by roads and highways. In 1993, Israeli occupation authorities started to build a new road system in order to connect these settlements with each other and with Israel. On the ground, those roads confiscate Palestinian land, isolate Palestinian communities and provide an incentive for Israelis to live in colonial settlements.
Beit Safafa is located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It used to be linked to a network of villages that were ethnically cleansed in 1948 such as Al Malha, Al Jura and Wallajeh. The village was divided during the Nakba (1948 war) and since that moment what remained of Beit Safafa became the last Palestinian village on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Since 1967, Beit Safafa has been severely affected by Israeli colonial activities, such as land confiscation, home demolitions and evictions, aimed at annexing Occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine.
As part of this overall policy, Israel built the Gilo settlement between Beit Jala and Beit Safafa, followed by Har Homa settlement in 1996. Recently, the so-called Israeli Jerusalem Municipality announced plans to build another settlement in the same area called Giv’at Hamatos, further violating Israel’s obligations under international law.
In Beit Safafa, Israel, the occupying power, has created, and continues to create, excuses such as the “absentee property law” to confiscate properties belonging to Palestinians living abroad or even in the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine. Thus far, it has annexed 200 dunums of land (nearly 50 acres)for the expansion of the Gilo colonial settlement.
A Highway for Colonies
Recently, approximately 250 dunums (nearly 62 acres) of land were confiscated in order to construct an 80 meter settler highway “Road 4”. Road 4 will extend for 1600 meters and further divide Beit Safafa village.
About five months ago Beit Safafa residents woke up to the sound of the bulldozers leveling their agricultural lands. The effects of this colonial highway are already being felt in Beit Safafa with communities being split and hundreds of trees being uprooted.
As expected, the constructed highway will mainly serve the settlers who live in the Gush Etzion area settlements to the south and Gilo, Har Homa and Givat Hamatos colonial settlements with West Jerusalem.