Israel denied that it plans to confiscate some 3,000 acres around the West Bank village of Beit Iksa outside Jerusalem for military purposes.
A spokeswoman of COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry unit in charge of civil administration in the Palestinian territories, told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency in a report published Tuesday that there were Israeli military orders only to renew a confiscation order for 163 dunams (41 acres) of land in Beit Iksa north of Jerusalem.
“Around 163 dunams were temporarily confiscated in 2004 for military purposes,” the spokeswoman said.
The renewal of the order means “that the area will be used for military purposes until 2017,” she told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
Ma’an had previously published a report last week claiming the army had ordered the confiscations of 3,176 acres (12,852 dunams) of the village’s land.
The report featured images it said showed the order itself, as well as maps delineating the areas to be expropriated.
Beit Iksa residents told Ma’an news agency that soldiers at a checkpoint distributed the orders, signed by head of the IDF Central Command Gen. Nitzan Alon.
The orders gave the residents until the end of 2017 to leave the land in question. They also said that soldiers informed the Beit Iksa residents that an IDF liaison would come on Monday to explain which parcels of land would be confiscated.
Beit Iksa village council head Saada al-Khatib told Ma’an that Israeli officials said that a confiscation order was originally given in 2012, and the current orders reiterate the previous one.
Beit Iksa sits in Area B — it is under Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control — between the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot and the village of Mevasseret Zion. It has around 1,700 residents.
The village is sensitive for several reasons. It is located less than a kilometer from Route 1, the main artery running from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. In addition, it is surrounded by land purchased by Jews before the establishment of the State of Israel, and captured by Jordan during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
In 2009, Beit Iksa lost 20 dunams to the high-speed train project being built from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.