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וַיְהִי, אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, כֶּרֶם הָיָה לְנָבוֹת הַיִּזְרְעֵאלִי, אֲשֶׁר בְּיִזְרְעֶאל--אֵצֶל הֵיכַל אַחְאָב, מֶלֶךְ שֹׁמְרוֹן"            מלכים א' פרק כא"

Grazing, seizing and looting by Israeli settlers in the West Bank

This report describes and analyzes the development of Israeli sheep and cattle grazing in the West Bank, which has gradually become Israel’s most significant mechanism for dispossessing Palestinian communities. At issue are tens of thousands of acres of open areas expropriated by the Israeli authorities and settlers through dozens of shepherd outposts and farms, the great majority of which have been established over the past decade. The use of grazing to seize land began in the early 1970s and continued intermittently in the 1980s and 90s. In recent years, however, the phenomenon mushroomed in terms of area size, investments, and the destructive repercussions for Palestinian communities.

The declared objective of the farm outposts is to “protect state lands”. In practice, however, they are designed to uproot Palestinian grazing and farming communities from public or private lands, and turn them into lands that only settlers can use. To promote this objective, one instrument must be used above all others: violence. Indeed, the farm outposts have recently seen some of the most violent incidents in the West Bank. It is no wonder that the uprooting of people from their lands, often also their ancestral lands, requires severe and ongoing violence. Accordingly, countless incidents involving threats, harassments, and assaults on Palestinian farmers and shepherds have occurred around these outposts in recent years, often in the presence and full support of military or police forces.

These outposts are the spearhead of a violent land-grabbing system, well planned and generously funded by various state and quasi-state bodies. These include the military, the Israeli Civil Administration (of the West Bank), regional and local councils, the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, the Ministries of Agriculture and Education, and the new Ministries of Settlement and Intelligence. All are preoccupied with what has recently been referred to as the “Battle for Area C”, meaning the coercive transfer of Palestinians from the area, which represents 61% of the total area of the West Bank, and their enclosure in isolated enclaves.

This publication is comprised of two components:

  • A written report describing the emergence and development of the concept of uprooting Palestinian communities through grazing. 

  • An interactive map indicating the locations of farm outposts and the size of the territory grabbed in each case.


Main Findings

Currently, there are 77 farm outposts in the West Bank, designated for sheep and cattle grazing. The great majority of these outposts were established over the past decade.







 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Farm outposts can be divided into three groups:


Permanent shepherd outposts.

 
New agricultural outposts established over the past decades, where the grazing element is secondary or even negligible, but may become significant in the future. 


Satellite outposts – extensions of permanent shepherd outposts, some of which are established and evacuated from time to time.  
 

Our mapping of the areas around the farm outposts indicates that the territory seized by settlers through grazing totals some 60,000 acres or a little less than 7% of the entire Area C.

 
About 20,000 acres, or a third of the total area seized by settlers through grazing, are located within areas declared by the Israeli military as “firing zones”, on the eastern edges of the West Bank. According to military law, these are considered “closed military areas”, despite having been used historically by Palestinian shepherd communities.

 
As opposed to how the settlers and various entities devoted to their cause try to present the farm outpost project, over half the territory seized by the settlers dwelling in them (about 32 out of 60,000 acres) is not registered as state land or has never been declared as such by the State of Israel. These are Palestinian grazing and agricultural lands. Moreover, the settlers seize these lands under the auspices of the state and with its generous help. Its various arms are deeply involved in funding this project, despite the fact that according to its own laws, the state is not authorized to allocate these lands to settlers.

 
Meanwhile, the state tries to keep the land allocations to settlers under wraps. To ensure secrecy, the land allocations to settlers that we do know about have been made through the Settlement Division, of the World Zionist Organization, which was exempted from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law by special legislation in 2015. As this document reveals, those behind that law had two excellent reasons to promote it. First, they did not want the public to have information about lands “legally” allocated to settlers. Second, and just as important, they did not want the public to know which lands have never been allocated to settlers, but seized by them nevertheless, in direct violation of the law.


 

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Read the full report

The Wild West