Ramallah: The Israeli military has announced that it will expropriate whatever land it needed in Bethlehem and Hebron to build a road for colonists, claiming that the move will protect them from stone throwers.

Palestinians have labelled it as a lie and a pretext to seize fertile lands and permanently rob farmers of their fertile land and their livelihood.

Israeli military Etzion Sector Commander Colonel Yaniv Alaluf held a meeting with the residents of the colony of Efrat, announcing that a new road is to be built in Gush Atzion in an attempt to protect drivers from incidents of stone hurling.

“The road construction is expected to be completed in a year,” he said.

Israeli daily Yadiot Ahranot has reported that the meeting with the colonists was held following complaints of an increase in the number of stone throwing incidents in the area.

According to Alaluf, “This is the time of a reduced sense of security. When stones are hurled at houses, it’s a failure of the battalion, of the brigade, and first of all mine,” he stressed.

“Stone hurling in this uninhabited area of Palestinians is a mere justification for Israeli annexation of huge plots of land,” said Monther Amirah, who heads the Palestinian Popular Anti-Barrier and Colonialism Committee in Bethlehem, in an interview with Gulf News. “Geography does not lie. Colonists are safe in their colonies, and far away from the Palestinian populated areas.”

Amirah said that this was a new Israeli plan to seize more Palestinian lands in the town of Al Khader of Bethlehem and the town of Beit Ummar in Hebron, where those lands intersect near the Israeli colony block of Gush Atzion. Hundreds of Palestinian farmers depend on their fertile lands in that area. “From an Israeli perspective, security is the only undisputed justification to seize more Palestinian privately owned lands,” he said.

Palestinians in Bethlehem have vowed to stand up to the colonists and prevent them from taking over their lands. “We will spare no effort to fight the Israeli plans in the area,” he said.

“All land owners were summoned to provide their ownership documents and the Al Khader Municipal Council will sue the Israeli military forces and colonists in Israeli courts,” he said, adding that Palestinians will also face the colonists and their military cover on the field.

The new road is expected to connect the Gush Atzion colony block with the colonies of Efrat, Eli Hozar and Nofei Daniel to provide colonists with their own route in what is seen as a segregationist and racist Israeli move. “Colonists in the area are extremely aggressive when they approach Palestinians in their areas and commit daily attacks,” he said.

“Not even a single Palestinian attack has been reported in the area,” he stressed.