On June 11, the Israeli military arrived in the Um Kbeish area in the West Bank. It declared the area a closed military zone and razed and destroyed two wells for collecting water, a fence surrounding the land, and about 240 olive trees.
One of the wells had belonged to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and was used to irrigate the olive trees. The other well belonged to a Palestinian resident and his siblings, who together own the nine dunums of land where the demolition took place. The family has documents proving ownership of the land and has planted olive trees since 2012, enduring financial hardships in maintaining its continued irrigation. In 2012, after they bought costly plastic water tanks to fill with tankered water, Israel issued a “removal notification” for the tanks.
In 2014, after the family constructed a water well, funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Israel issued another “removal notification” under the pretext that the land constituted “State land.” The family filed a complaint and had a court hearing set for June 24. Ignoring this, Israel’s demolition took place on June 11.
Throughout the years, six Israeli settlements and outposts and an Israeli military camp have been built on land belonging to the West Bank village Sinjel, whose residents have documents proving their ownership. Also on June 11, the Israeli water company, Mekorot, razed the land to build a pipeline for the company. The pipeline would run from the Israeli military camp to a settlement, through an agricultural road, and 60 dunums of private land used to cultivate olives, almonds, and wheat.
The denial of access of Palestinian residents to their agricultural land leaves the lands uncultivated and therefore subject to confiscation by the Israeli authorities.
Since the election of Donald Trump, and his support of the illegal settlements, Israel has increased spending on roads, schools, and public buildings for its illegal settlements by 39%—to $459.8 million.
The strongest growth was in school construction (for illegal settlement schools), which jumped 68%, and road construction (not for Palestinians), which rose 54%.
Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid. For 2019, the President’s request for Israel would encompass approximately 61% of the total requested U.S. military funding worldwide. Annual grants to Israel represent approximately 19% of the overall Israeli defense budget. Israel’s defense expenditure as a percentage of its Gross Domestic Product is one of the highest in the world.