What Yaqut al-Hamawi Didn't Say About the Trees That Protected Yasuf

APN | Yasuf – Salfit


The well-known traveler Yaqut al-Hamawi, when he passed through the village of Yasuf in the first century and wrote about its pomegranates, could not have foreseen that this village would eventually find itself trapped in a harsh colonial reality. Thousands of dunums of its land would be taken for the establishment of settlements, settlement outposts, and bypass roads.

In 1978, on the lands of the peaceful town of Yasuf, located to the east of the Salfit governorate, the settlement of Ariel was established by the "Gush Emunim" settler movement. Ariel was one of four settlements recognized as major cities with its own independent municipal authority separate from other settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ariel, the largest settlement in the area, accommodates approximately 20,000 settlers, primarily from the ultra-Orthodox Meir Kahane group, which advocated for the removal of Palestinian Arabs from their ancestral lands. The planning for Ariel commenced in 1967 when land was seized from several villages, including Yasuf.

What places Yasuf at the focal point of this scenario is its proximity to the Za'tara military checkpoint along its eastern border. To the west, it is restricted by the Ariel settlement, while the Kfar Taffouh and Rahalim settlements of the Shomron Regional Council serve as barriers on the northern and southern boundaries.

APN reached the village of Yasuf to safeguard the land from being confiscated by planting 924 fruit trees. APN supported the village amidst their ongoing struggle against expanding settlements, particularly the recent establishment of the Taffouh outpost in 2000. This outpost resulted in the confiscation of 100 dunums for its construction, as well as the appropriation of land for the construction of three bypass roads that effectively isolated Yasuf from its neighboring villages. These roads include the Trans-Samaria Highway 505, Trans-Samaria Highway 5, and Highway 60, which traverses the southern lands of Yasuf.