Israeli Army Razes Land near Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, February 10, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli army Tuesday razed large tracts of Palestinian-owned land in the village of Artas, south of Bethlehem, according to local sources.

Hasan Burajiya, a local anti-settlement activist, told WAFA that an Israeli army force accompanied by heavy military machinery broke into the area and razed 30 dunums of land that belongs to Palestinians, planted with olive saplings.

The activist said the Israeli act was a prelude for expanding the nearby illegal settlement of Efrat, noting that illegal settlers had set up a tent in the area about six months ago, preventing its owners from access it.

To be noted, the Israeli daily Haaretz uncovered yesterday a recent plan by the Israeli Civil Administration to expand the settlements of Kedumim, Vered Yericho, Neveh Tzuf and Emanuel in the West Bank.

Settlement construction and expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are both considered illegal according to international law.

According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, “the settlements have been allocated vast areas, far exceeding their built-up sections. These areas have been declared closed military zones by military orders and are off limits to Palestinians, except by special permit.”

“In contrast, Israeli citizens, Jews from anywhere in the world and tourists may all freely enter these areas.”