FeedVimeoYoutubeFacebookTwitterLinkedinGoogle

Israeli Occupying Forces Confiscate 29 Dunums of Palestinian Land for “Security Reasons”

Thursday, 06 December 2018 17:07 [12-18 November 2018]
Print

Confiscation order on file with Al-Haq.The Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land is a systematic policy, implemented through different means, fulfilling the Israeli goal of grabbing the maximum land with minimum Palestinian presence. Israeli mechanisms of confiscation have included the construction of the Annexation Wall, the expropriation of land for settlement construction and expansion, the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources, and the use of “security” as a pretext to justify the confiscation of lands. In Area C of the West Bank, Israel’s policies of land appropriation and annexation have materialized through: declaration of land as abandoned property; requisition of land for military needs, including closed military areas and firing zones; expropriation of land for public needs; and the declaration of vast areas of land as ‘State land’.[1] In addition, Israel has adopted legislation aiming at the dispossession of Palestinians, including the 1950 Absentees’ Property Law, which declares Palestinian refugees who fled during the Nakba,[2] between 29 November 1947 and 19 May 1948, as “absentees”, stripping them from their property (including land) ownership, and diverting ownership to the Custodianship Council for Absentees’ Property (‘the Custodian’).[3] Due to continued confiscations, access to lands in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has gradually decreased since 1967. Recently, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) has once again resorted to the “security” pretext to confiscate 29 dunums of land in Al-Jalamah village, Jenin, as explained in this weekly focus covering Al-Haq’s field documentation between 12 and 18 November 2018.

IOF Confiscate 29 Dunums of Land for “Security Reasons” in A-Jalamah Village  

Al-Jalamah is a Palestinian village, located in the north of Jenin city, north of the West Bank. The village is classified as Area C, thus falling under full Israeli control over security, planning, and construction. The population of Al-Jalamah is approximately 2,500 people.[4] In mid-2003, the IOF confiscated 300 dunums from the northern part of Al-Jalamah which are located outside the Green Line, for the construction of the Annexation Wall. During the same year, the IOF also established Al-Jalamah checkpoint, which is one of the four main commercial entry points into the West Bank, and which is located on land belonging to Al-Jalamah village. The checkpoint, part of Israel’s closure regime imposed on the West Bank together with the Annexation Wall, currently separates Palestinian communities on both sides of the Green Line.[5]

On Sunday, 11 November 2018, some of the residents of Al-Jalamah village found “orders to seize lands” in an area known as “Al-Abbarah” in the west of Al-Jalamah village, which is near the mentioned checkpoint and the Annexation Wall. The order had been published by the IOF, signed by “Naddaf Bdan Aluf”, the IOF military commander of “Judea and Samaria”, announcing the confiscation of 29 dunums of the village. Accordingly, the order “announces the seizure of land for security reasons,” while later in its paragraph 8, it provides that “the order is valid until 31 December 2020”.[6]

Of the 29 dunums slated for confiscation by the Israeli military, 24 dunums belong to the Palestine Industrial Estate Development Company, headquartered in Ramallah in the West Bank, while the five other dunums are privately owned by members of Abu Farha family from Al-Jalamah.

In his affidavit to Al-Haq, Muhammad Abd Al-Qader Abu Farha, the mayor of Al-Jalamah Village Council, notes that these 29 dunums of Al-Jalamah are fertile and used for the cultivation of different crops. He also mentioned that “no Israeli military training camps were taking place in these lands; however, my worries are such confiscations might be aimed at expanding the industrial checkpoint or for other unknown military goals.”

Legal Analysis

Israel, as Occupying Power, must respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of Palestinians under international human rights and humanitarian law applicable in the OPT. The confiscation of land within Al-Jalamah village, located in the occupied West Bank, breaches Israel’s obligations under the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907), which are constitutive of customary international humanitarian law,[7] and which Israel has undertaken to respect in the OPT as part of its domestic legislation.[8] Indeed, the seizure order by the Israeli military commander, as published in the village, violates Article 46 of the Hague Regulations, as it amounts to prohibited confiscation of private property. In addition, Article 23(g) of the Hague Regulations prohibits the destruction or seizure of enemy property, whether belonging to private individuals or to the State, “unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war”.[9] Critically, Israel’s declared confiscation of Palestinian land in Al-Jamalah village does not serve any imperative necessities of war, as evident from the circumstances outlined above and the suggestion that the land may be intended for the expansion of Al-Jamalah checkpoint, as part of Israel’s closure regime, violating Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement within, to, and from the OPT.[10]

Under international human rights law, the IOF’s arbitrary confiscation of private Palestinian land in the village of Al-Jalamah constitutes a violation of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which provides that “[e]veryone has the right to own property” while affirming that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” In addition, such confiscation contravenes Israel’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), notably under Article 11(2)(a), requiring States to guarantee an adequate standard of living in areas falling under their jurisdiction. The right to an adequate standard of living includes “developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources”, which encompasses the use of land.[11]

Al-Haq further stresses the interdependency of human development and prosperity with property rights, which elevates the value and need for the enjoyment of such property rights for societies to evolve and prosper.[12] Within the Palestinian context, Palestinians have perceived property, specifically real estate, with high importance and use, both as a source of livelihood and income, and as a component of Palestinian culture, identity, and connection to their land, notably in light of consistent confiscation attempts by the Israeli occupation, as illustrated in the case of Al-Jalamah above.

In this regard, the confiscation of Palestinian land further amounts to a violation of the community’s cultural rights protected under the ICESCR,[13] including under Articles 1, 2, 6, and 15, in accordance with which land rights are connected to economic, social, and cultural development. Finally, Israel’s confiscation also strips Palestinian land from its special importance as a resource for the development of Palestinians as an indigenous people, denying them the enjoyment of their traditions and tenure, under Article 10 of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[14] Taken as a whole, Israel’s continued dispossession and displacement of Palestinians, through prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territory and denial of refugee return, inherently denies Palestinians their right to self-determination as a people, including permanent sovereignty over natural resources.[15]

[1] For more information, see Al-Haq, Settling Area C: the Jordan Valley Exposed (2018), pp. 20-30, available at: http://www.alhaq.org/publications/publications-index/item/settling-area-c-the-jordan-valley-exposedcategoryid10?category_id=7.

[2] Al-Haq, “The Nakba 70 Years On: Israel’s Failure to Erase Palestinian Collective Memory” (15 May 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/civil-and-social-rights/1243-the-nakba-70-years-on-israels-failure-to-erase-palestinian-collective-memory.

[3] Absentees’ Property Law 7519 (1950).

[4] Al-Haq Affidavit No. A 737/2018, given by Muhammad Abd Al-Qader Abu Farha, a resident of Thahr Al-Maleh village, Jenin Governorate, on 17 November 2018.

[5] For more information on Al-Jalamah checkpoint, see: Palestine Trade Center, “Internal Commercial Crossings”, available at:

https://www.paltrade.org/en_US/page/internal-commercial-crossings.

[6] Al-Haq Affidavit No. A 737/2018, given by Muhammad Abd Al-Qader Abu Farha, a resident of Thahr Al-Maleh village, Jenin Governorate, on 17 November 2018.

[7] International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Case of the Major War Criminals , Judgment, 1 October 1946, Official Documents, Vol. I, pp. 253-254, available at:

https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/NT_Vol-I.pdf.

[8] Moreover, under the Israeli military order annexed to Proclamation No. 3 of 7 June 1967, Israel, as Occupying Power, declared that it would apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to the OPT. However, this rule was eventually revoked due to subsequent pressure by Israeli officials. Since then, Israel has rejected the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the OPT, arguing that it will only abide by its “humanitarian provisions” but without any indication as to which of these provisions it would apply. The Military Order Concerning Security Regulations that is annexed to Proclamation No. 3 of 7 June 1967 states, inter alia, that military tribunals would be established by the area commander. Art. 35 of the Order states that the military tribunal and its administration shall apply the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in all legal proceedings, and that the Convention prevails in case of contradiction between the present Order and the Convention. See, for example, ICRC, Humanitarian debate: Law, policy, action (2013), available at: https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/resources/international-review/review-890-violence-against-health-care-2/review-890-all.pdf.

[9] See, ICRC Rule 50, “Destruction and Seizure of Property of an Adversary”, Customary International Humanitarian Law Database, available at Military manuals, available at:

https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v2_cou_gb_rule50.

[10] Article 12, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1976). See also Article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

[11] Article 11(2)(a), International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1976).

[12] See, e.g., Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr. and Lee Hoskins, “Property Rights: The Key to Economic Development” (7 August 2003), available at: https://www.libertarianism.org/publications/essays/property-rights-key-economic-development.

[13] Articles 1, 2, 6, and 15, ICESCR.

[14] Article 10, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).

[15] Common Article 1, ICCPR and ICESCR.