By TPS • 27 May, 2019
A joint project led by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the European Union (EU) to “restore” a historic village that never existed is taking over a strategic area in the center of Gush Etzion, the Regavim organization has revealed.
The PA and EU are expanding their program of land-seizure, taking control of a strategic area in the heart of the Etzion Bloc, between Route 60 and Neveh Daniel.
This is part of a PA and EU-orchestrated program of building strategically located outposts that undermine the basis of the Oslo Accords, create facts on the ground and erode Israeli sovereignty.
Regavim has found that over the past two years, the PA has created a “historic” village that is situated on a strategic point adjacent to the Jerusalem-Hebron highway. The name given to the new “ancient” village is Shoshkhalah.
Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, Yishai Hemo, describes the PA’s methodology.
“Over the course of the last two years, activists from the Arab town Al Khader, backed by Palestinian Authority and European Union funding, occupied the ruins of two ancient Shomerot. They renovated these abandoned structures and turned them into homes – and from that point, in very short order, totally new structures have been added in the surrounding area,” he explained.
A Shomerah is a watchman’s hut, a simple stone structures used by shepherds or farmers as shelter from the elements during the changing seasons. They are found throughout the Jerusalem landscape.
The signs posted on the refurbished buildings, bearing the European Union insignia, say the site is an ancient village – Shoshkhalah.
However, aerial photos show that in the last two years, more than 15 homes have been built in this “village,” each connected to infrastructure that provides solar-generated electricity and water from tanks paid for by the Europeans. Analysis of the aerial photos from 1967, as well as historic maps dating back to 1880, proves that there was never any settlement of any kind at the site.
“This is another phase in the Palestinian Authority-European Union program to seize control over strategic areas,” adds Hemo. “We are all too familiar with the program – from illegal construction in the Adumim Region, from land-grabs and highly-developed construction projects on IDF training grounds in the Hebron Hills and Gush Etzion, and from the extensive agricultural work that the PA is carrying out as a means of securing ownership rights to tens of thousands of dunams that have been illegally seized for Roots Project activity.”
“The ‘ancient village’ of Shoshkhalah is just one more example that illustrates the rule: There is no such thing as a vacuum. When the State of Israel fails to regulate and register land in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority takes advantage of the opportunity to seize this land and annex it, de facto, to its jurisdiction,” Regavim stated Monday.
Regavim, a research-based legal advocacy NGO dedicated to ensuring accountable use of Israel’s national land, published in January a report which exposes the PA’s construction work at Nahal Heletz, near Har Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem, just minutes away from Shoshkhalah.
“In this case, too, the Palestinian Authority serves as a guiding hand that finances the work with aid from foreign countries, and as in other places, the agricultural work was exposed as an illegal outpost established by the Palestinian Authority in a strategic area,” Hemo stated in January.