IWPS House Report

A Visit to Ariel Settlement

The settlement of Ariel, illegally constructed in the West Bank, 40 km east of Tel Aviv, 40 km west of the Jordan river and 65 km from Jerusalem, claims to be situated “in the heart of Israel.”  It is in fact, located in the center of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


Ariel [1] is an Israeli settlement and a city in the central West Bank. Established in 1978, its population at the end of 2008 was 16,700,[2] including 7,000 immigrants who came to Israel after 1990.[3] It is the fifth largest Jewish settlement and city in the West Bank. The Israeli Ministry of the Interior gave the municipality of Ariel the status of a city council in 1998. Like other settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, Ariel is considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.[4]

Sunday 1st August 2010

IWPS volunteers visited Ariel settlement to see it with their own eyes.  It is built on top of one of the most beautiful hills in the Salfit region on the land that was confiscated from the village of Haris.  Though always visible to the Palestinian villages that surround it there has not been many opportunities to venture inside the settlement. Palestinians are not allowed inside Ariel and IWPS volunteers rarely have time to visit and see for themselves how life is in this illegal settlement.

IWPS volunteers, Marine and Meg, took the time this Sunday and set off to see it. Not knowing where the entrance was, they asked a friendly looking “local” settler just outside of the gate.  They took Bus no. 186, as was advised, and a few minutes later, they were inside the settlement.

The bus journey inside the settlement was a long one.  They were intending to get off at the center of the settlement but without the driver telling them where to get off, theny ended up on other side of the settlement near the University.

From there, they started to walk.  In the brazing sun, they had already decided, before entering the settlement, they would allow themselves a coffee in the settlement. They walked for about half an hour taking photos of seemingly temporary accommodation in the form of caravans before they spotted a café.

The café was attached to a public swimming pool which included a modern looking fitness center publicized as a very modern sport and exercise facility, complete with swimming pool, workout gym, locker rooms, and kosher cafe…”[5]

Public swimming pool

Inside,  the building is air-conditioned, clean and neat just what you may expect in any upper class facility in a European or American city.  They watched girls having fun in two swimming pools through the grass partition while having coffee.  It also contained a Speedo shop as well as hair salon that advertises L’Oreal.

Then they set off again to find the city center.  On the way, despite the very dry weather, they saw lush green gardens scattered all over the settlement.  However, strangely, they saw no people.  Maybe because it is too hot and it supposed to be only “Mad dog and English men” who are supposed to be outside…?

One of the gardens

They walked on.  They came across a roundabout with a fountain in the middle.  Soon after that, they came to an outside swimming pool where many people were relaxing and enjoying water.  Unimaginable scene if you live in a Palestinian village just below the settlement;  water shortage is one of the continuous problems.

They took some more photos and went on.  After four hours of slow trekking they came out of the settlement. The heat of the day had almost gone.

New building under construction

Ariel Settlement continues to glow despite the “settlement freeze”.  New immigrants continue to settle in Ariel, coming from Russia, South America and North America. Though not entirely sure the settlement freeze also means within the settlement, we did see a lot of new buildings under construction in the middle of the settlement. According to “city of” Ariel, it “is part of the Communal Aliyah and Absorption Project, known as –Better Together- Aliyah V’Klita Kehilatit.  This program is designed to provide the new immigrant with a supportive framework, professional guidance and financial assistance, in all aspects of immigration and absorption Benefits provided by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and the Ariel Municipality offer project participants the following[6]

This statement seems to contradict what Netaniyahu says about settlement freeze and confirms the reality-the settlement freeze is a sham.

They left the settlement on foot and walked into a Palestinian village.  At its entrance stands a beaten up, seemingly unstaffed military watch tower. They took photos before seeing a the faces of soldiers inside.  Only few kilometers away the contrast of two different way of living is evidently clear.

Entrance to Kafr Haris

Written by Marine and Meg


[2] ^ “Table 3 – Population of Localities Numbering Above 1,000 Residents and Other Rural Population” (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2010-02-21.

[3] ^ “Population and Density Per Sq. Km in Localities Numbering Above 5,000 Residents” (PDF). Statistical Abstract of Israel, 2006. Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2005-12-31. Retrieved 2008-10-20.

[4] ^ Patience, Martin Kadima victory concerns settlers BBC, 31 March 2006

[5] Ariel Past and present, written by Benjamin Laskin Friday, 26 June 2009 for Ariel Municipality & Ariel Development Fund.

[6] Aliyah from Ariel Municipality & Ariel Development Fund (Ariel Capital of samaria).

Fact Sheet by B’Tselem

1.  Ariel is an Israeli settlement in the Salfit District in the central West Bank, some 16.5 kilometers east of the Green Line, with a population of 16,800 (at the end of 2009). It was founded in 1978 on land that was seized under the false pretext of imperative military needs and on land that was declared state land, including cultivated farmland of villages in the district and on rocky land the villagers used for grazing their flocks. The state’s declaration of state land was made in breach of the right to due process and relied on a distorted interpretation of the binding legislation in the West Bank. The settlement’s municipal area contains many enclaves of privately-owned Palestinian land, whose owners are not allowed access to them (see map).

2.  Ariel was established in the heart of Salfit District, in a way that blocks the urban development of the regional town of Salfit. Israel does not allow lands to be transferred from the Area C category (lands that are under Israeli control and comprise 60 percent of the West Bank) to the Area A and Area B categories, which are under Palestinian control, and thus prevents future development of Salfit.

3.  The Separation Barrier built around Ariel created a wedge that separates seven villages north of it (Hares, Kifl Hares, Qira, Marda, Jamma’in, Zeita-Jamma’in, and Deir Istiya), which are home to some 25,000 Palestinians, from the district seat, Salfit (10,000 residents), where the villagers receive a variety of services.

4.   Israel has blocked Palestinian entry to Salfit from the north via a road branching off the Trans-Samarian Highway that also serves as the main access road to Ariel. As a result, Palestinians must travel a long way, via the Tapuah junction and the villages Yasuf and Iskaka, to the eastern entrance to Salfit. What was once a five-minute trip now takes 30-40 minutes, sometimes more.

Map of the long travel route between villages north of Ariel and their regional town, Salfit.

5.  The prolonged neglect of treatment of Ariel’s wastewater, due to the malfunctioning of the treatment facility inside the settlement, has led several times to pollution of Salfit’s central water-pumping facility. The flow of Ariel’s waste has already damaged the flora and fauna in Wadi al-Matawi, between Salfit and Ariel.

6.  Israel prevents the building of a wastewater-treatment facility in the town of Salfit, although funding has been found for it, and conditions approval on Palestinian willingness to use the facility to treat Ariel wastewater as well.

7.  According to a 2007 report of the Finance Ministry’s accountant general, Ariel receives higher per capita financial support than any other Israeli authority. The per capita allocation in Ariel (NIS 9,035 a year) was 7.9 times higher than the average per capita allocation for municipalities in Israel (NIS 1,200 a year), even though Ariel belongs to a relatively high socioeconomic cluster (6).

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