The construction of an industrial zone in Kiryat Arba.
(photo credit: MOSHE BUTBIA/TPS)
Cranes placed four caravans on hilltop 22 in the Kiryat Arba settlement on Monday, the first step in the construction of an industrial zone.
The Kiryat Arba-Hebron Council sent a celebratory message about the event to residents: “With God’s help, we are fortunate today to establish a new stake hold in the Land of Israel.”
The Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria confirmed the project had its approval.
“The four structures that were placed today on Hill 22 in Kiryat Arba were placed in accordance to procedures, within a valid municipal building plan and within the boundaries of state land,” it told The Jerusalem Post
Only a handful of construction projects have begun in the community of some 7,200 people during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure in office, and as a result growth has been stagnant.
The council said the site, known as Mevaser, would be an industrial zone located a kilometer away from the Ramat Memra neighborhood.
It was established in memory of two slain soldiers who grew up in Kiryat Arba, one who was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2014 and another who was stabbed to death at the Gush Etzion junction.
The construction “symbolizes the way we are striding forward and developing in the face of these large challenges,” the council said.
It added that it was also working on plans that would be deposited with the Civil Administration for Hill 18, on the outskirts of the settlement.
The move occurred hours before Netanyahu met with US President Donald Trump in the White House to discuss the administration’s effort to get the Palestinians to resume peace talks with Israel.
In the past any such building has been discouraged around the time of Netanyahu meeting with a US president.
The Trump administration has frowned on settlement construction, but it has not created the same type of friction as occurred with past US governments.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said the placement of the caravans was yet another sign of the Trump’s administration’s tolerance for settlement construction.
She added that the building was outside the developed lines of the community.
“The only territorial connection between [the industrial zone] and Kiryat Arba is a road,” Ofran said.
She added that the site was also only about 800 meters from the fence separating the settlement from the Palestinian areas of Hebron, so that it was effectively like building a new Jewish area in Hebron.
The Palestinian news agency Wafa claimed the industrial zone was on a 7-hectare (12.3-acre) site that belonged to the Hebron families of Jwihan, Eida, and Abu al-Halawa, and charged that Israelis had removed saplings belonging to the Eida family in the last week.
The Peace Now website said the Civil Administration classified the 7 hectares as state land in 1982, and authorized the plan for the industrial zone in 1988.