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Locals: Israeli forces hand Bethlehem village confiscation orders

Sept. 28, 2011 1:39 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2011 2:01 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces notified villagers near Bethlehem that their land will soon be confiscated, local residents said Wednesday.

Land owned by 40 families in Battir village -- 148 dunams of vegetable, fruit and olive groves -- is earmarked for confiscation, villagers told Ma'an.

According to the notices received by villagers, the area is close to the train line to Jerusalem and next to the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, in which Israeli authorities approved the building of 1,100 new homes on Tuesday, sparking international condemnation.

The notification of the Israeli Ministry of Finance's intention to purchase the lands said the acquisition was for military and security purposes.

Battir resident Nidal al-Zaghir told Ma'an the land confiscation "will be a great loss for the village, as they will lose many of their houses, water wells and agricultural lands."
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