• Tweeter
  • republish

Michelle Qassieh, after the destruction of her restaurant in Beit Jala, August 26, 2019. AFP / Musa Al SHAER

Ten days before the Israeli elections, settlement continues in the occupied West Bank. Nearly 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the Palestinian Territories, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Colonization is an important theme of the campaign: Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has renewed his promise this summer to annex large swathes of the West Bank in case of re-election and has announced new construction.

With our special correspondent in Beit Jala , Marine Vlahovic

This colonization is illegal under international law and presented as an obstacle to peace, it nibbles Palestinian land. As south of Jerusalem, in Beit Jala, in an emblematic and strategic valley. Earlier this week settlers set up an outpost just days after the destruction of a nearby Palestinian restaurant.

On a hill streaked with olive trees, two trucks are planted at the bottom of a small field, but they have nothing innocent according to Hassan Breijeh of the Palestinian Committee against the wall and colonization

" Next to the trucks, they put caravans or whatever and they sleep there to prove that they use this land, " he says.

Israeli settlers have set up this army-protected outpost in the Makhrour Valley, a collection of ancient olive groves near settlements and the road from Jerusalem to the southern West Bank.

And Hassan fears the worst in the future: " Here they will build a colony, and they will be able to connect it to the settlements of Har Gilo, Gush Etzion and the road. And all this area will be threatened. "

A restaurant destroyed for the third time

This threat is already real, since at less than 100 meters Michelle Qassieh looks at a digger that picks up the debris from his restaurant. " They destroyed everything, " she slips. It was destroyed for the third time by the army last week, for lack of license but the forty-year-old is determined to stay. " No one can take me out of my field. It will take time, but we will succeed in building, "she says.

Claiming to have acquired this land fifty years ago, the Jewish National Fund asked for this demolition, a request denounced by the NGO La Paix now which taxes the organization of "Fund for the expulsion of the Palestinians".

►Also read: West Bank: Israel approves construction of 2300 housing units in settlements