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JNF forest to be uprooted to expand Dangerous Arab village Encroaching on main road.

While the IDF has establishing a brigade to protect forces moving on roads during wartime, the Israel Lands Authority is expanding the Arab village of Kafr Kanna in a manner that encroaches on a major road. The Lev HaGalil Organization said, “Drop this plan immediately." IDF Spokesperson: We were not consulted.

  • Elchanan Gruner, Hakol Hayehudi
  • י"א אייר תשפ"ד - 16:30 19/05/2024
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The JNF forest (לב בגליל)
The JNF forest (לב בגליל)

The State of Israel’s latest fight against the ‘Judaization’ of the Galilee, an idea now stigmatized among land planning authorities, involves the expansion of the Arab village of Kafr Kanna.

According to the plan, the village, which currently includes about 600 dunams, will require uprooting a JNF forest near Highway 77 and the Beit Rimon junction. In place of the forest, another neighborhood of the village will be built.

Thousands of donors who contributed to the famous JNF blue boxes to preserve land for Jewish homes and agriculture, surely could never have imagined that the State of Israel itself would now be cutting down the forests they planted.

The continued erosion in the authorities’ relationship with the land has now led to a situation where trees donated by Jews  are uprooted by the State of Israel to expand Kafr Kanna- arguably the most violent Arab village in the Galilee.

The Village of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement

The village is a stronghold of the Northern Branch of the Islamic movement, which was outlawed by Israel. It is the hometown of Kammal Khatib, the Deputy Head of the Movement who is currently standing trial for incitement during Operation Guardians of the Walls.

The current Head of the Local Council is Azaddin Amara, who after the escape of several terrorists from the Gilboa Prison held a rally calling to ‘end the occupation’ and releasing terrorists. He is also a key partner of the Sheikh Raed Salah, Head of the Northern Branch.

The former Head of the Local Council is Yusef Awadah also part of the Northern Branch and a close affiliate of Salah. He was also named in the order outlawing the Northern Branch.

Creating a unit to protect the forces, while others endanger them

To understand the danger of the Israel Land Authority’s plan, one must review the events in the village during the 2021 Operation Guardians of the Walls. During that war, riots and harassment from the local villagers threatened the main road, Route 77.

The riots escalated and police forces who attempted to quell them were attacked with Molotov cocktails, stones, and in some cases even live fire, with illegal weapons being common in the village.

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Moving IDF forces to the Northern Border during war, is something the IDF had planned for in advance having recognized the threat from local Arab villages along the route. Following the 2021 riots, the IDF established the "Yaara" brigade consisting of three battalions whose role is to ensure that IDF forces can travel the roads safely.

The Israel Land Authority’s plan, apart from uprooting a JNF forest, will bring Kafr Kanna closer to Route 77 and the Beit Rimon junction.

With a war in the North expected by all, it is odd for the State of Israel on one hand to create within the IDF a specialized unit to preserve freedom of movement, while other government bodies enable the threat fro Kafr Kanna to encroach close upon a major highway. An IDF Spokesperson told HaKol HaYehudi that they were not familiar with the Israel Land Authority’s plan and had not been asked to take a position on it.

”Shelve the Plan Immediately”

The Lev HaGalil organization, which works to preserve the Jewish character of the Galilee, said in response that the plan must be shelved immediately. "After 76 years of the State of Israel, forests planted to preserve Jewish ownership of lands, are now being cut down to enable massive expansion of the most violent village in the north, threatening major road arteries and posing a major threat towards the movement of IDF forces during an emergency situation,” the organization said. "This is an unreasonable and anti-Zionist act. The plan must be shelved immediately!”

The Spokesperson of the Planning Department in the Interior Ministry responded to our request for comment stating, “This is a plan developed by the Israel Land Authority, which has long been approved. Whether the plan will be implemented is up to the Israel Land Authority.”
 
In contrast, the Israel Land Authority deflected blame to the Interior Ministry. The Israel Land Authority, told HaKol HaYehudi: “The aforementioned planned involving Kafr Kanna was approved by the Planning Department of the Interior Ministry in 2020. Expansion of the village is being considered by the various authorities involved in planning and the decision for an eastward expansion was arrived at after numerous discussions and considerations.

“Following the numerous discussions, the Planning Department approved the eastward expansion and construction of 2,235 homes. In addition, a consideration of the current forest on the land in question was discussed and a decision was made for some of the forest to be preserved, some to be uprooted and replanted and some to be uprooted.

“The Israel Land Authority as the group responsible for overseeing state lands is only involved in the development of the land, the payment for the land, and the initial infrastructure. The question of uprooting, replanting or preserving forests is decided based on discussions that follow the approved plans. Why this particular plan was approved is a question for the Interior Ministry.”

The Jewish National Fund responded, “The JNF work and will continue to work to preserve forests in accordance with the law. This plan was approved by the authorities over 15 years ago and therefore JNF will adhere to it as we are required and obligated. Inquiries should be directed to the relevant authorities.”

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