Israel seizes West Bank land for controversial barrier
Yahoo News/AFP
April 28, 2007

JERICHO, West Bank (AFP) - Israel is to confiscate 23 hectares (57 acres) of Palestinian farmland in the occupied West Bank for its controversial security barrier, according to a military order seen by AFP on Saturday.

The army on Friday told the village council in Bardaleh, north of the city of Jericho, that the land would be confiscated "for security reasons" in order to extend the barrier Israel says stops suicide bombers.

Those who own or use the land are invited to apply for compensation, said the order a copy of which was given to AFP by Bardaleh council.

The Israeli army declined to comment on the seizure, but a senior Palestinian official criticised it.

"We strongly condemn this decision and we call on Israel to cancel it immediately," said Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Israel says the 700 kilometre (435 mile) long barrier, made up of concrete walls and razor wire fences, is necessary to protect the Jewish state against terrorists.

Palestinians say the barrier is a land grab which eats up chunks of their promised state, separates farmers from their land and splits families.

The International Court of Justice, in a non-binding decision, ruled the barrier illegal in 2004. Israel has pressed on with construction, which is 65 percent finished.

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