Jewish Settlers Try to Build Illegal Outpost on Palestinian UNESCO Heritage Site

The Battir area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. (Photo: via UNESCO)

Jewish settlers last week tried to establish a new outpost near the Palestinian village of Battir, an area that is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Israeli media reported.

Mohammad Abidallah, a member of the Battir village council, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that illegal Jewish settlers prevented the Palestinian owners from accessing their land, adding that this is the fourth time settlers have tried to establish an outpost in the area.

The majority of the land in Battir was declared part of Area C – which falls under Israel’s military and administrative control – and has long been the target of Israeli settlement expansion.

In 2014, UNESCO declared Battir a World Heritage Site, a decision made in an expedited process due to plans at the time to build a fence around the village, which is located in the center of a corridor of illegal Jewish settlements that run from lands south of Bethlehem up to occupied East Jerusalem.

“The Battir cultural landscape encompasses ancient terraces, archaeological sites, rock-cut tombs, agricultural towers, and most importantly an intact water system, represented by a collection pool, channels, etc. The integrity of this traditional water system is guaranteed by the families of Battir, who depend on it,” UNESCO says of the village on its website.

Acc0rding to Haaretz, Israeli NGO Peace Now asked Defense Minister Benny Gantz to have the outpost removed.

“It is frightening to think that a handful of settlers would dictate to Israel its foreign and security policy by determining facts on the ground,” the organization wrote in a statement.

Haaretz reported that Gantz’s office has not yet replied to their query. However, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, the settlers were successfully expelled by the Palestinian residents of the village.

(The Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

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