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Affidavit No. 4892/2009

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Muhammad Khalil ‘Uthman Sa’d, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 997214630, born on 3 February 1967, a member on Artas Village Council, and a resident of Artas village, Bethlehem Governorate, would like to declare the following:

I am a resident of the village of Artas, located three and a half kilometres south of Bethlehem. I am also a member of the Artas Village Council. The village houses approximately 4,000 residents. According to the Ottoman Land Register, the village land measures 13,850 dunums.

The flat or build-up area of the village, including buildings and streets, measures 4,304 dunums in line with the English Register. In early 1980, the Israeli settlement of Efrat was constructed on Palestinian land belonging to the village of Artas and the town of al-Khader. To construct the settlement, the Israeli authorities confiscated thousands of dunums of Palestinian land. Consequently, Artas was left only with its flat build-up area and its grove, extending from the Suleiman Pools to Wadi Murad in Bethlehem. The majority of the village land is arable and residents are mostly farmers. After land was confiscated to construct the settlement of Efrat, no village land was left for Palestinians.

On 16 April 2009, we were surprised to read an announcement in al-Quds Newspaper published by the so-called Israeli Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria. The announcement stated that 1,770 dunums of land belonging to the village of Artas would be seized for construction of a new settlement. Therefore, the total land, which was confiscated in the village amounted to 10,000 dunums. Note that an area of 4343 dunums was seized several years ago for construction of the Separation Wall. Built in the area between the village of Artas and the settlement of Efrat, the Wall extends through the western countryside towards villages in the south of Bethlehem Governorate. The affected land belongs to residents of Artas, who possess registration certificates as well as taxpayer registration certificates issued by the British Mandate authorities, which prove their ownership. So far, we have not received any written notice from the Civil Administration. Since the announcement, however, settlers have started to gather on top of Abu-Zeid Mountain, which is part of the village land. The settlers hang out in the mountain and celebrate. The last celebration organised by the settlers was last week.

The Israeli authorities have not yet started constructing the announced new settlement and we do not know where on the village land the settlement will be constructed exactly or on whose piece of land.

 

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4892/2009
  • Field researcher: Ziad Hmeidan
  • Affidavit Date: 5 May 2009
  • Name: Muhammad Khalil ‘Uthman Sa’d