A woman tends to sheep next to a house demolished in a Jahalin Bedouin community within the E1 Development Plan, January 2015.


Oren Ziv/ Active Stills

Feature Story

Israel Takes Final Steps to Large-Scale Land Confiscation and Forced Displacement of Bedouin


Israel advances a massive land confiscation under cover of war, threatening Bedouin tribes and foreclosing the possibility of a future Palestinian state.

Barring international intervention, mid-April will mark the final stage in Israel’s confiscation of a huge swathe of Palestinian land that is currently home to three Palestinian Bedouin communities.

These 2,640.3 dunams (654 acres) of land in the Palestinian villages of Abu Dis and al-‘Izariyya1 are part of the E1 Development Plan, a settlement bloc that Israel has slow-walked through approvals for decades, due to US and international pressure. The E1 plan would sever Palestinian routes to East Jerusalem and the southern West Bank, thus precluding a contiguous Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli officials declared the land “state land” on February 29, starting the clock on a 45-day complaint period that will end on or about April 11. An Israeli military court will hear the complaints but likely finalize the declaration, paving the way for the forced displacement of the herding communities that are living on and using the land.

“Whether the Israeli court accepts our appeal or refuses it, we’re not going to leave,” Daoud Eid Muhammad Jahalin, one of the 1,300 people threatened with displacement if the court moves ahead, said in an interview with Jerusalem Story.2 “We’re not going to be refugees again.”

E1 plan map showing Abu Dis and al-‘Izariyya, the community of Abu Nuwar, and the Israeli settlement Ma‘ale Adumim

Map of the E1 plan showing Abu Dis and al-‘Izariyya, the community of Abu Nuwar, and the Israeli settlement Ma‘ale Adumim


Peace Now

E1 and the Settlement Project

In only the first few months of 2024, Israel has declared exponentially more land “state land” than any year since 1998, confiscating 10,640 dunams for possible settlement expansion, according to Peace Now.3 These moves are taking place while international focus is directed to the Gaza Strip crisis.

The E1 Development Plan (short for “East 1,” the Israeli designation of the area just east of Jerusalem) creates roads and infrastructure for some 3,500 settlement homes.4 The region slated for confiscation in April is on the southern end of the West Bank’s E1 corridor and within the municipal boundaries of Israeli settlement Ma‘ale Adumim.5

Settlement construction in E1 has moved at a snail’s pace since the plan was initiated in the 1990s, but the recent designation is laying the groundwork for development. Designating the land as state-owned strips Palestinians of their ownership rights and opens the way for construction, which in almost every known case is meant to house Israeli Jews.6 The E1 plan itself has not yet gone through the final approval step.7 US pressure caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel that meeting, which would have heard final objections to the E1 plan, in June of last year (see Delayed but Not Dead, the E1 Settlement Plan Threatens Lingering Two-State Dreams).

The US has not recently reiterated its direct opposition to the E1 plan, despite these steps to pave the way for new building within its boundaries. In a US State Department briefing one day before the confiscation of the Abu Dis and al-‘Izariyya lands, spokesperson Matt Miller said, “We think settlements are an obstacle to peace, inconsistent with international law. And we’re going to have this conversation with them [the Israeli government] in the context of the larger challenges that Israel faces and the larger opportunity that we are ready to present to them with Arab partners in the region.”

Before the Jordan Valley land is finally put under Israeli control, anyone claiming ownership of the property has 45 days to file an objection that is then reviewed by a military court appeals committee. In nearly every case, these objections are overruled and the state’s declaration is approved by the court.8

“Whether the Israeli court accepts our appeal or refuses it, we’re not going to leave.”

Daoud Eid Muhammad Jahalin, Abu Nuwar resident

Palestinian Refugees Facing Displacement Again

Three Palestinian Bedouin communities totaling 1,3009 people—Abu Nuwar,10 Wadi Abu al-Suwan,11 and part of the Abu Hindi12 community—are at risk of being forcibly displaced from their homes once the land becomes state-owned. They are part of the Jahalin tribe and were previously displaced by Israel from Tel Arad and the Negev desert in 1948 and in the early 1950s. While these communities live on and use the land, they are not actually the owners. The land belongs to Abu Dis and al-‘Izariyya residents who have inheritance deeds to the plots. These deeds are not recognized in Israel’s courts.13

While a process of land registration was underway during the Colonial British Mandate period, Israel suspended it in 1968 after occupying the West Bank (see The Complex and Unresolved Status of Land in East Jerusalem). Palestinian property owners were required to register their land in property tax books to pay their taxes, but Israel does not consider property tax books sufficient to prove ownership. It also requires proof that the land is being cultivated.14

The Abu Nuwar Bedouin community, threatened with forced displacement, sits next to settlement Ma‘ale Adumim.

The Abu Nuwar Bedouin community with the Israeli settlement of Ma‘ale Adumim in the background. Abu Nuwar, which falls within the E1 settlement bloc, is threatened with forced displacement.


Peace Now

Israeli law stipulates that lands shown to be uncultivated for several years15 are without owners and can be declared as state property. In many cases, Israeli settlers play a role in preventing the land from being cultivated by threatening landowners or blocking their access, which then precipitates state confiscation.16

Abu Nuwar resident Jahalin disputes that the confiscated land was not being cultivated. His community of Bedouin herders often grazes livestock and depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.

“The majority of the land is used,” Jahalin told Jerusalem Story. “However, we all know that there is a general war on everything that is Palestinian—stone, land, everything—they want to control and confiscate every single piece of land just to implement the code that says ‘a land without a people for a people without the land.’”

“We all know that there is a general war on everything that is Palestinian—stone, land, everything.”

Daoud Eid Muhammad Jahalin, Abu Nuwar resident

He said that the three affected communities are working with Abu Dis and al-‘Izariyya to prepare their objections to Israel’s announcement. They have decades of experience trying to beat back Israel’s attempts to displace the community of Abu Nuwar, which has been plagued by demolitions at the hands of the Israeli state since 2005, according to Jahalin.

Israel has a practice of demolishing Palestinian homes that are built without permission. Permits are almost never granted to Palestinians in open areas of the West Bank because it is coveted for Israeli settlement expansion.17

“They have demolished the only school in the community five times between 2016 and 2018,” Jahalin said. A total of 80 demolitions including water tanks, solar panels, fences, and other structures have been carried out since 2016. “But every time—within 14 days—we somehow managed to rebuild everything.”

Nearly every family in the community has been touched by demolition, which threatens their livelihoods and residences and imperils their way of life. Despite Israeli efforts to relocate the community elsewhere, Jahalin says, “they’re staying in their land and nobody has left.”



Daoud Eid Muhammad Jahalin, interview by the author, March 7, 2024. All subsequent quotes from Jahalin are from this interview.


“Government Declares 2,640 Dunams.”


“Government Declares 2,640 Dunams.”


Jacob Magid, “Israel Advances Plans for 7,000 New Settler Homes, Places E1 Project Back on Docket,” Times of Israel, February 23, 2023.


“Government Declares 2,640 Dunams.”


Jahalin interview, March 7, 2024.


The Bedouin Communities East of Jerusalem – A Planning Survey,” Bimkom—Planners for Planning Rights, accessed March 27, 2024.


“Bedouin Communities.


“Bedouin Communities.


“Israeli Government Declares 8,000 Dunams.”


“Government Declares 2,640 Dunams.”


Hagit Ofran, “Khan al-Ahmar and ‘State Land’ Allocations in the West Bank,” Fathom Journal (December 2018).


Anchal Vohra, “The Draconian Law Used by Israel to Steal Palestinian Land,” Al Jazeera, July 8, 2021.


Between 2017 and 2021, Israel granted only 33 requests for building permits by Palestinians in the West Bank. Aaron Boxerman, “Israel Permitted 33 Palestinian Structures, Razed Over 1,100 since 2017 — Ministry,” Times of Israel, February 18, 2022.

Load More Load Less