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Israel continues construction on West Bank

BEIT JALA: On Thursday, Israel commenced construction on a contentious part of its parting barrier in the occupied West Bank near a Palestinian Christian town.

Cranes started lifting eight-metre (yard)-high blocks into place near Beit Jala, south of Jerusalem and close to Bethlehem, a photographer beheld. This part of the wall could separate Palestinians from their olive orchards.

Nicola Khamis, mayor of Beit Jala, condemned what he saw as a land snatch.

“This land is for our families, our children,” he said by phone from the bridge next to the construction place.

The Israeli army denoted questions to the defence ministry, which did not instantly reacted.

Inhabitants of Beit Jala alarm the construction of the wall may lead to the extension of the nearby Israeli settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo.

Khamis said they expected to encounter the wall’s construction, with emergency policy conferences planned, but he accepted they had no further pleas within the Israeli legal system.

After a nine-year legal struggle, Israel’s high court ruled in July 2015 the wall was lawful, making only minor modifications.

Without this land all the Christians will leave this country. It is improbable to build in Beit Jala. We want to expand Beit Jala. Khamis said.

Israel started building the barrier of walls and fences inside the occupied West Bank in 2002 at an elevation of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising), saying it was vital for security.

The Palestinians take it as a land seize directed at snipping part of their future state and term it the “apartheid wall”.

“It is constant with the Israeli government’s policy of consolidating apartheid in the West Bank,” Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said of Thursday’s construction. “It dismisses the prospects for Bethlehem to develop”.