SALFIT, (PIC)-- The accelerated settlement construction and the confiscation of lands in the villages and towns of Salfit governorate located in the center of West Bank have caused shocking and scary changes in the province, negatively affecting various areas of life of the Palestinian citizens.
Palestinian statistics documented that there are 24 Israeli settlements in the Salfit governorate compared to 18 Palestinian towns and villages; these settlements extensively drain the rich natural resources and the groundwater of the province.
Researcher Khaled Ma'ali told the Palestinian Information Center that the settlement buidling, which began early in Salfit in the late seventies, has been dramatically affecting the lives of all citizens of the villages and towns of Salfit. He attributed this situation, which is contrary to international humanitarian law, to the following shocking information and changes:
1. For the first time, Salfit is the first West Bank province in which the demographic balance is broken in favor of the settlers; as more than 100 thousand settlers; including students of the Ariel University are living in the settlements in Salfit versus 90 thousand Palestinians.
2. For the first time a big University is established in a settlement inside the West Bank, which is the Ariel University; statistics in 2011 indicate that nearly 20 thousand students study at this university which was established over a Palestinian land.
3. The Israeli occupation views Salfit as a strategic area because it is located over the Western Aquifer Basin, a lake of underground water, from which the Israeli occupation steal water and re-sell it to its rightful owners at prices that reach up to tenfold of the prices offered to the settlers sometimes.
4. Salfit is the second area in Palestine targeted with settlement after occupied Jerusalem; due to the small number of Palestinian inhabitants and its large area.
5. In Salfit there are four industrial zones, which are: Ariel, Burkan, Amonial and Eli Zahav.
6. There are three nature reserves in Salfit, namely: Qana valley reserve (west of Deir Estia), Banat Barr reserve (west of Kafr Addik), and Noatef spring reserve (north of Qarawat Bani Hassan).
7. The Israeli occupation authorities deal with Salfit as an extension for Tel Aviv, that might help protect it, according to earlier remarks by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
8. The settlement in Salfit province transformed it from a province producing large amounts of olives crops to a province harried by settlements; which resulted in the loss of an important economic resource. This affected the farmers making part of them unemployed while others turned to work in the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories.
9. The settlement of Ariel is the second-largest settlement in the West Bank, where there are nearly 50 thousand settlers including: 25 thousand settlers in the residential and the industrial areas while nearly 25 thousand students study at Ariel University.
10. The large and contiguous Israeli settlements in Salfit will separate the northern cities of the West Bank including: Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Qalqilya; from the middle and south ones starting from Za'atara barrier which is located east of Salfit and south of Nablus, to Kafr Kassem in the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories.
11. The Israeli settlers and occupation government dominated, confiscated, and notified of the confiscation of a total of 70% of the province lands in favor of settlements and the separation wall.
12. During a short period of time and due to the settlement activity in Salfit, the dream of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories could never be fulfilled, and the two-state solution might disappear forever.