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Israeli settlers raze private Palestinian land near Bethlehem

April 24, 2017 4:47 P.M. (Updated: April 25, 2017 10:55 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers razed privately-owned Palestinian land in the Wadi al-Ghawit area in the western outskirts of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Monday, according to locals.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the Palestinian owner of the land in question, Ibrahim Sbeih, was physically assaulted by the settlers.

Locals said that Israelis from the illegal settlement outpost Sde Boaz leveled 10 dunams (2.5 acres) of agricultural land owned by Sbeih, who said he had not been officially notified by Israeli authorities that the land was slated for confiscation.

It remained unclear whether the land in question, which had been planted with almond trees and grapevines, was leveled with bulldozers or by other means.

Sbeih told Wafa he had legal documents to prove his ownership of the land.

A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an they were not familiar with the case.

Sde Boaz, also known as Nevi Daniel North, was established in 2002 when settlers from the established illegal Nevi Daniel settlement took over a hilltop about 1.5 kilometers north of Nevi Daniel.

Israeli settlers from Sde Boaz destroyed over 300 newly planted grape vines belonging to the Sbeihs in 2014.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The international community regards all settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal, though the Israeli government distinguishes between the state-sponsored settlements and dozens of unauthorized outposts like Sde Boaz.

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.
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