Bethlehem- In a new targeting revealed for the first time, he seized Settlers Israelis in several Palestinian caves spread east of the city Bethlehemin the southern West Bank, after their owners were expelled from it, and they turned them into tourist attractions.
According to a Palestinian official, the settlers, with the help of the Israeli occupation army, took advantage of the aggression against the Gaza Strip since October 7 The past to expel Palestinian farmers from large areas of wilderness areas belonging to villages east of the city of Bethlehem, an area estimated at tens of thousands of dunams, and then restore and promote them as places for overnight stays.
The Saqr Jibreen family is one of several Palestinian families that were subjected to forced migration due to settler attacks, and as a result were deprived of cultivating their land, grazing their sheep, and returning to it.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Jibreen said that his family of 10 members was residing in a cave, and next to it was a “barracks,” which is a tin building used to house sheep and preserve fodder, “but after the war on Gaza, we were expelled from our land, so we were forced to move to the town of Tuqu.” (East of Bethlehem) and we were unable to return to our properties and homes.”
He added, “The settlers occupied the cave, restored it, settled in it, dismantled the barracks, and threw away our belongings, including blankets and mattresses.” He said that he was shocked after seeing the cave that sheltered him turned into a shrine under the control of settlers who use it to promote tourism.
Jibreen pointed out that the same thing happened to other citizens, and he said, “At least I know 6 or 7 families who had the same thing happen to them, and they were displaced and the roads leading to their caves and lands were cut off.”
According to the documentation of the Palestinian Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission, it monitored the displacement of 6 Palestinian families, numbering dozens of members, from the wild area east of the town of Tuqu’ in Bethlehem, forcing its residents to return to the eastern villages.
The director of the Commission’s office in Bethlehem, Hassan Brejiyeh, says that the Commission does not have accurate and final statistics about what is happening in vast areas east of the governorate.
Brijiyeh added – to Al Jazeera Net – that Israeli accounts recently began publishing propaganda materials on social media for caves whose owners were evicted as places for tourism and sleeping, and who raised the Israeli flag over them, after carrying out restoration operations and placing beds and cabinets inside them.
Brijiyeh said that what is happening “aims to bring settlers to that area within the “tourist settlement” scheme that has begun to spread widely, in addition to what are known as pastoral outposts, which are outposts in which settler shepherds reside, use large areas of Palestinian land, and prohibit entry. their owners to her.”
According to the Palestinian official, all the caves are known by the names of their Palestinian owners, who used them to sleep, shelter sheep, and preserve fodder before they were displaced from them. Some of them were used by their owners during the seasons, or on weekends.
Brijiyeh described what is happening as “a war crime committed by the occupation and settlers by forcibly deporting Palestinian families and their children from their privately owned lands and bringing settlers in their place.”
Regarding the opportunities to go to the Israeli judiciary to recover the caves, he said that their owners are afraid to go to police stations to file complaints, because they are located within the settlements and because the Israeli judiciary has not been fair in similar cases.
He pointed out the intention of the Palestinian Wall and Settlement Resistance Authority to appoint a lawyer in the case to stop the attacks on residents’ caves and lands and return their owners to them.
Exploitation of the desert
For its part, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Monday that “the ruling Israeli right is creating escalation to implement the version of destruction and displacement in the Gaza Strip on the West Bank.”
The Ministry pointed out that “settlers have violated the Palestinian desert and Bedouin communities, their homes and caves throughout the occupied West Bank, as is constantly happening in all areas of the Jordan Valley, Masafer Yatta and the eastern areas of Bethlehem.”
She continued, “The armed colonialists, with the protection of the occupation army, continue the crimes of displacing these communities, abusing them, and imposing forced displacement on them to evacuate the lands in which they live to allocate them for the benefit of settlement.”
According to the annual report of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission, during 2023, 25 Palestinian Bedouin communities, including 1,517 individuals, were displaced, most of whom were displaced after last October 7.