On the 6th December 2019, around 200 local Palestinians gathered by the side of road 574, running out of Tulkarm and southeast between the villages of Khirbet Jubara and Izbat Shufa. Local media were there, and so were many candidates for the upcoming local elections. It was a Friday, and many attending were taking the opportunity to catch up on the week’s events. At 11:30 in the morning, they began to pray.
The reason for this organised event relates to the large hill at the bottom of which the crowd was gathered. This hill and the area around it has recently been earmarked by Israeli authorities as the site for the construction of a new Industrial Zone. The site is approximately 3km inside the West Bank, and consists of land that has been illegally confiscated from local Palestinian farmers, many of whom were at the protest. The farmers do not receive compensation for the loss of their land.
Protesters rest at the top of the hill, with Izbat Shufa in the background
Raed Mahmoud, Palestinian farmer at the protest
Raed Mahmoud is one farmer who was at the protest, and owns land on the affected site. He said that he was not informed about Israel’s plans and only found out by searching for them online. He also highlighted the negative effects that will come after construction, such as air and water pollution.
Another farmer told us that 11 different clans from Izbat Shufa own land in the affected area. This constitutes a huge portion of the population of the village, and the loss of land would have devastating effects on the economic wellbeing of Izbat Shufa. He also said that some of the affected land is common land owned by all of the community and that they plant almonds and olive trees there.
According to Who Profits, there are 19 such ‘Industrial Zones’ in the West Bank. These zones ‘house a wide spectrum of export-oriented Israeli manufacturers and a smaller number of international corporations’. They produce a wide variety of products, including carpets, alloy coatings, and security fences. They are built in Area C, over which Israel exercises full military and planning control. Area C makes up approximately 60% of the West Bank.
Blueprint for the planned Industrial Zone. Immediately to the North of the map is Izbat Shufa, and to the south is Khirbet Jubara