Jerusalem24– The Israeli Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria has declared 22,000 dunams of land, including private Palestinian land, as a “nature reserve” in Nabi Musa south of Jericho.
Judea and Samaria is the Israeli term for the West Bank.
The declaration was published last week, however it was signed on 12 April 2022. The declaration takes effect 60 days after its publication, until which time the public may file objections.
This is the largest piece of land to be declared a nature reserve in 25 years, with 5,280 dunams being private Palestinian land, and the remaining areas state-registered land, and lands declared as state lands in 1989.
A report by Peace Now details how owners of land that was declared a nature reserve cannot cultivate their land, plant trees, or graze their land without an approval from the Nature Reserve Officer.
It is important to mention that any declaration of a nature reserve by the head of the Civil Administration must have the prior approval of the Minister of Defense, in this case Benny Gantz.
Peace Now state in their report, “This is not a matter of nature conservation but a matter of taking over land. In the Occupied Territories, nature reserves are one of the many tools Israel uses to dispossess Palestinians of their lands. The Israeli government is losing its shame, and towards what seems to be the end of its political path, it is beginning to run amok and deepen the occupation in every possible way. The occupation cannot be washed away with green colors; The occupation remains a black spot on the State of Israel and it is time to end it.”