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Israeli settlers dismantle own structures illegally set up on Palestinian lands

March 30, 2017 12:30 P.M. (Updated: March 30, 2017 9:27 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli settlers dismantled structures they had built on Palestinian lands in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Palestinian residents of the area, the structures -- seemingly an attempt to build an illegal settlement outpost -- were first set up by Israeli settlers two weeks earlier on lands belonging to the villages of Kafr Malik and al-Mughayyir east of Ramallah.

At least one Israeli settler had seized tens of dunams of land in the area and brought thousands of sheep to graze there under the protection of Israeli soldiers, locals added.

The head of al-Mughayyir local council, Faraj al-Nasaan, said that Israeli bulldozers dismantled the settler structures on both villages' lands.

An official source told Ma’an that the settlers had received demolition warrants for having built without Israeli-issued permits, and that the settlers had dismantled the structures themselves.

The incident occurred less than a week after Israeli forces shot and injured at least 12 Palestinians during a demonstration denouncing the settlers’ illegal seizure of Kafr Malik and al-Mughayyir lands.

Israeli authorities evacuated homes in two illegal settlement outposts -- Ofra and Amona, which was fully evacuated in February -- since the beginning of the year for being built on private Palestinian lands.

However, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed the outpost “Regularization law” in February, which could grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.

The law states that any settlements built in the West Bank “in good faith” -- without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians -- could be officially recognized by Israel pending minimal proof of governmental support in its establishment and some form of compensation to the Palestinian landowners.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on the same day as Amona settlers were violently resisting evacuating the outpost that he had taken preliminary steps to establish a new illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank to resettle Amona residents -- possibly marking the first new settlement officially established by the Israeli government in more than two decades.

While settler outposts constructed in Palestinian territory are considered illegal by the Israeli government, each of the some 196 government-approved Israeli settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are also built in direct violation of international law.
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