Settler policy to turn Palestinian caves into tourist attractions

Bethlehem- In a new target revealed for the first time, he captured Settlers Israelis in several Palestinian caves spread to the east of the city bethlehemin the southern West Bank, turned them into tourist attractions after their owners were evicted.

According to a Palestinian official, the settlers, with the help of Israeli occupying forces, have taken advantage of the aggression in the Gaza Strip. October 7 A large wilderness area (estimated to be tens of thousands of dunams in area) was used to evict Palestinian farmers from villages east of the city of Bethlehem, then restore and promote it as a place to stay overnight.

Palestine - Bethlehem - Bethlehem Wilderness - Photo Al Jazeera 2013 - Wilderness area east of Bethlehem
In recent months, wilderness areas east of Bethlehem have been confiscated and residents evicted (Al Jazeera)

forcibly displaced

Saqr Jibreen's family is one of several Palestinian families forced to move due to settler attacks, depriving them of the right to farm their land, graze their sheep and return to their homeland.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Giblin said that his family of ten lived in a cave next to a “barracks,” a tin building used to raise sheep and preserve feed, “but in After the war in Gaza, we were evicted from our land, so we were forced to move to the town of Tuqu” (east of Bethlehem) and we were unable to return to our property and homes. “

He added, “The settlers occupied the cave, repaired it, settled inside, dismantled the barracks and threw away our belongings, including blankets and mattresses.” He said that when he saw the cave where he sheltered transformed He was shocked when it became a shrine and came under the control of settlers who used it to promote tourism.

Jabrin noted that the same thing happened to other citizens, saying: “I know of at least six or seven families where the same thing happened, they were displaced and the roads to their caves and land were cut off. .” “.

According to documents from the Palestinian Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, which monitored the displacement of dozens of people from six Palestinian families in a wilderness area east of the town of Tuku in Bethlehem, forcing their residents to return to their eastern villages.

Tourism promotion

Hassan Brejiyeh, director of the council's Bethlehem office, said the council does not have accurate and final statistics on what is happening in the vast eastern part of the province.

Brigier added to Al Jazeera that Israeli accounts had recently begun posting promotional material on social media about the caves, which their owners had expelled as a place for tourism and sleeping, while restoration work was being carried out on the caves and the Israeli flag was placed there. After the caves, they raised the Israeli flag over the caves. There are beds and cabinets inside.

What is happening, Brigier said, “is aimed at bringing settlers to the area within a program of “tourist settlements” that has begun to spread widely, in addition to so-called pastoral outposts, outposts where settler shepherds live Station, using large areas of Palestinian land and prohibiting its owners from entering her.”

All the caves are known by the names of their Palestinian owners, who used them to sleep, shelter the sheep and preserve feed before the sheep left the caves, according to Palestinian officials. Some of these caves are used by their owners during the season, or on weekends.

Brigier described what is happening as “a war crime committed by occupying forces and settlers who forcibly evict Palestinian families and their children from their private lands and bring settlers into their places.”

Regarding the opportunity to go to the Israeli judiciary to reclaim the caves, he said the owners of the caves were afraid to go to the police station to complain because they were located inside a settlement and the Israeli judiciary was not fair in similar cases.

He noted that the Palestinian Wall and Settlement Resistance Agency intends to appoint a lawyer in the case to prevent attacks on residents' caves and lands and return their owners to them.

Develop the desert

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Monday that “the ruling Israeli right is seeking to escalate the situation in order to carry out destruction and displacement in the Gaza Strip, West Bank.”

The ministry noted that “settlers have violated Palestinian desert and Bedouin communities, their homes and caves throughout the occupied West Bank, and this continues to occur in all areas of the Jordan Valley, Massafir Yatta and the eastern Bethlehem area. “

She continued, “Armed colonialists, protected by occupying forces, continue to commit crimes of displacing these communities, abusing them and forcibly displacing them in order to evacuate the lands they inhabit and allocate them for the benefit of settlement. “

According to the annual report of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, 25 Palestinian Bedouin communities, including 1,517 people, were displaced during 2023, most of them after October 7 last year.

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