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Israeli Settlers Confiscate Palestinian Land, Build a Synagogue then Tax Palestinian Land Owners

Monday, 02 February 2015 08:25 - [19 - 25 January] - Ref.: 3/2015
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In 2002, Israeli settlers confiscated seven dunums of agricultural land from 'Abd al-Karim, 57, and his relatives in the Wadi al-Hussein neighbourhood, Hebron, near the Kiryat Arba' settlement. The settlers set up a tent, turned it into a synagogue and are now demanding that 'Abd al-Karim pay property taxes to Kiryat Arba's local council. The family has been involved in legal proceedings in the Israeli courts for approximately eight years.

'Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Al-Ja'bari - Wadi al-Hussein - Hebron

Tax_Palestinian_Land_OwnersOn 19 January 2015, a settler arrived at 'Abd al-Karim's residence with a document issued by the Kiryat Arba' local council, requiring 'Abd al-Karim to pay them a sum of 88,200 shekels (approximately USD 22,430) in property taxes. The document also indicated that the bill was issued based on the Israeli Supreme Court's previous decisions in relation to this case. It also states that, should 'Abd al-Karim not pay the amount, the land would be sold at auction. On 23 January, one of the other land owners, Zeidan Ismai'l al-Ja'bari, received a similar bill to pay.

In 2002, the Israeli settlers illegally set up a tent on 'Abd al-Karim's land, under the protection of the Israeli police and soldiers. As a result, 'Abd al-Karim and his relatives  had their movement restricted. In 2007, the Israeli forces removed the tent. Five hours later, the settlers had rebuilt the tent and added seats and cabinets and turned it into a synagogue. They also created a tiled passageway between the land and the western entrance of Kiryat Arba' and Tallet al-Aba', a settlers' neighbourhood. Over time, the settlers expanded the size of the tent, using improved building materials. Nowadays, the tent is approximately 100 metres square.

Shortly after the re-construction of the tent in 2007, 'Abd al-Karim and the other landowners filed a complaint to the Israeli Supreme Court. While the court prevaricated, the tent continued to grow in size. Approximately seven months ago, the Israeli Supreme Court issued an order for the Kiryat Arba' municipal office to disengage water and electricity services from the outpost. However the municipal office refuses to claim responsibility over the outpost as it states that it is situated beyond its alleged municipal borders. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10368/2015)

The case of 'Abd al-Karim indicates that the impunity granted to settlers by Israel directly affects and contravenes Palestinians' rights to self-determination, including the principle of sovereignty over land and natural resources. As a result, Palestinians are deprived of access to their property and their main source of livelihood. As an Occupying Power, Israel has an obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law to safeguard the rights of civilians in occupied territory, including their access to private and public property.

The presence of settlements and settlers in the West Bank constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions; it also amounts to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the Occupying Power from transferring parts of its civilian population into occupied territory. Regardless of its obligations under international law, Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian land while further expanding settlements in occupied Palestine. 

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