BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Wednesday began work on a number of settlement units in Elazar settlement in the southern West Bank after razing nearby Palestinian lands, activists said.
Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the popular committee against the wall and settlements in the village of al-Khader near Bethlehem, said that Israeli settlers had begun work on four settlement units on lands belonging to the Mousa family near the existing Eliazar Jewish settlement.
Salah said that the lands where the construction is taking place are near the settlement but are not inside the fence surrounding the settlement, meaning that the expansion constitutes a land grab of the neighboring village's territory.
He added that the Jewish settlers had taken over a dunam of land south of al-Khader, planted it, and surrounded it with a fence.
Salah pointed out that the move was not an isolated incident, as Israeli occupation authorities had razed lands belonging to Palestinians in the nearby area of Um-Muhammedin south of the town in order to connect the nearby Efrat settlement to others in the area.
Salah said that acts of razing and leveling lands near al-Khader have been occurring "constantly," highlighting that Israeli forces have frequently prevented local farmers from reaching their lands.
Elazar was built in 1975 on land confiscated from a number of Palestinian families in nearby al-Khader.
A 2007 report by Israeli organization Peace Now says that 32 percent of the settlement land sits directly on top of private Palestinian property.
Many settlements are also built atop of private Palestinian land that has been previously declared "state land" and confiscated.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.