Israel reportedly halts work on donor-funded agricultural road near Bethlehem

Israel reportedly halts work on donor-funded agricultural road near Bethlehem

An officer from the Israeli Civil Administration documents damage after Israeli settlers destroy olive trees in the village of Burin on June 25. (Photo: Rabbis for Human Rights)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces ordered Palestinians to stop work on opening an agricultural road in the village of al-Khader south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Authority's Wafa news agency.

Local activist Ahmad Salah in al-Khader told Wafa that Israeli forces issued the stop-work order against a road that is being constructed to serve several Palestinian farmers in the area, which was funded by the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation through Cooperation for Peace and Progress (CPP).

Israeli soldiers informed workers from the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees that their vehicles and tools would be confiscated if work on the road continued.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit in charge of civil administration in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.

Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control -- are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.