In December 2015, an expropriation order was issued for 104 dunam of privately-owned Palestinian agricultural land east of Qalqilya.
This land is intended to be used for the building of a bypass road to go around Nabi Alias - an extension of Road 55 connecting Karnei Shomron settlement to the Eliyahu Crossing. In order to enable the construction of the bypass road, 700 olive trees would be uprooted and the agricultural landscape would be damaged, as would the livelihood of Palestinian farmers and small business owners. The cost of the project is currently estimated at around 50,000,000 NIS.
The plan was promoted under pressure from settlement leaders and Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council. In exchange for the removal of the protest tent Mr. Dagan set up in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, the government approved the pavement of this bypass road. Throughout the planning stages, the Palestinians’ needs were not taken into consideration, they were not consulted, and the expropriation is to be carried out without their consent.
Mousa Tabib, a resident of the unrecognized village Izbat al-Tabib located nearby and one of the 30 landowners who received expropriation orders, reports: “the distance between Alfei Menashe and Tzofim is one kilometer, and within that kilometer four roads already exist: a military road going around Alfei Menashe, the old Qalqilya-Nablus road, Road 55 and the military road around Tzofim. Now they’re building another road.
"This entire place is dead.” The residents are worried that the IDF might create a buffer zone around the new bypass road where Palestinian movement will be restricted. In such a scenario, other than the expropriation of 104 dunam, the construction of the bypass road will harm the Palestinians’ ability to cultivate additional hundreds acres of groves.
Locals have speculated that transportation needs are used as a pretext to transfer Palestinian land in Area C to the State of Israel.
At the entrance to the bypass road, the construction of a roundabout is planned which would imply the destruction of a few small Palestinian businesses: a grocery store, a truck garage, an electricity garage and drycleaning.
These businesses are forced to operate without a license since the Israeli government does not authorize Palestinian businesses in Area C, Therefore, the Palestinians who would be losing their businesses are not to receive any compensations. Bassam Ouda from Qalqilya says: “I have been here with this store 25 years.
They told me I need to be out within a month and they’ll be demolishing the store for a roundabout. And I need to pay them 13,000 NIS for legal expenses.”
On Saturday (07/01/2017) Israeli activists tried to reach the area of Nabi Ilyas to participate in protests against land confiscation and the uprooting of trees owned by Palestinians to build a road ... That evening the village of Izbat Tabib was raided and dozens of trees were uprooted.
In addition to the damage to the agricultural lands and the businesses at the entrance to the bypass road, the livelihood of business owners in the Nabi Alias village would also be affected. Road 55 in its present form runs across Nabi Alias and there are many shops spread along it that rely on the cars passing through the village for business.
They are likely to lose most of their clients once cars start using the bypass road going around the village. In the past, the Civil Administration and the IDF proposed an alternative plan: rather than building a bypass road, the existing road would be expanded in the part going through Nabi Alias, and compensations would be given to the shop owners whose lands would be taken.
The local residents had agreed to this alternative, which would include almost no expropriation of land or damage to the agricultural landscape and would allow the village residents to continue trading with passing vehicles. However, it seems that this plan is no longer considered and has been replaced with the construction of the bypass road, which would lead to much bigger damages.