Huwara Bypass Road…Another example of Land theft and Environmental injustice

October 25,2021

By: Rasha Hammo Abu Dayyeh

On your way to Nablus and before you reach Huwara, the road begins to get very smoggy! If you look around, you will notice the excavators and construction works. The reason behind all the air pollution in the area is the excavations for the preparation of construction of the new bypass road we have been hearing about constantly in the past few months.

While Israel claims that constructing such by-pass roads will help with the Traffic jams that are a constant feature of the trip for the Palestinians and Israeli Settlers on the main road. This by-pass road will however be added to many more by-pass roads that are accessed only by settlers in the Westbank. If you stop for a few minutes for a quick scan of the cars in the road at any time of the day, you would easily notice that the majority of the cars are Palestinian owned cars. So, if the road is meant to solve any Traffic jam issue, moving the settlers to the new bypass road won’t help in this case particularly.

The bypass road project aims to connect settlements to major Israeli cities and to limit the development of Palestinian cities. The ultimate plan is new separation roads and more settlement units.

This will help turn the mountainous settlements to a point of attraction for tens of thousands of settlers.

Once again, Israel steals Palestinian land to benefit the settlers of the settlements in the surrounding areas.

For the construction of the Huwara by pass road, Israel confiscates 450 Dunums of land from the Palestinian villages of Beita, Huwara, Madma and Burin to eventually serve one small settlement with an area of 40 dunums.

The lands confiscated from the above-mentioned villages are privately owned agricultural lands belonging to Palestinian landowners.

The 450 dunums confiscated to construct the bypass road are divided as follows; 380 dunums from Huwara, 40 dunums from Beita and 30 dunums from the villages of Madma and Burin.

It is also worth mentioning that, according to Israeli Law, for every dunum used for the construction of the road, another 4 more dunums will be denied from use in construction or any building, of what is called the right of way, two dunums at each side of the road. Meaning that, other than the 450 dunums that the Palestinians lost for the road, they will also be practically losing 1800 donums. 900 dunum on each side of the road.

If the land around the road is to be used for agriculture, then for every dunum of the road, 2 dunums of the land surrounding it, is denied from the use in agriculture. In this case 900 dunums will be lost as a right of way! 450 dunums at each of the sides.

Israel continues to deprive the Palestinians of their rights to their land in all ways possible.

Not only is this affecting the Palestinians by stealing their land or by affecting their daily life routine and depriving them of all means of safety and security. The clashes with the Israeli offensive forces also caused injuries to 3000 Palestinian including 300 shot with live bullets, which left behind 30 disabled and 5 martyrs.

This also has major direct effects on climate change. Using 450 dunums for the construction of one road to serve one 40-dunum settlement is certainly not a wise decision. If traffic jams were an issue, there are several environmentally friendly ways to solve such an issue.

If you look at the bypass road construction from a pure environmental point of view, it is not really hard to notice that the cutting down of the trees to build a road will eventually add enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

So, Palestinians in this case are deprived of all their rights, in their land, security and above all they have to suffer from climate change without even participating in the cause. I cannot see a better example of climate injustice!