The Ministry of Local Government in Bethlehem reported that Israeli soldiers and settler groups intensified their attacks against farmlands which belong to residents of al-Khader, near Bethlehem, in order to annex the lands to neighboring settlements.

Khaled Al-Azza, director general of the of the Popular Committee against the Wall at the department of local government, said that soldiers forced dozens of residents out of their lands, and threatened to arrest them if they return.

Soldiers claimed that the lands are part of a new settlement called Jiv’at Etamar, which was build of Palestinian annexed lands last year.

The owners of the lands said that they carry official documents proving ownership of their farmlands, planted with vines, almonds, and different sorts of vegetables.

The farmlands are located on a huge hilly area; part of it was already annexed by the army to Efrat settlement.

The bulldozed lands are the only source of livelihood to 14 families, and belong to Khaleel Issa Salah, Mohammad Issa Salah, Omar Mahmoud Salah, and Hasan Mohammad Sbeih.
Also, Abdullah Ghneim, head of al-Khader municipality, said that soldiers and settlers, using huge military bulldozers, uprooted on Thursday, farmlands in Wad al-Niess area, in al-Khader.

The bulldozed lands, which are located near the settlement, belong to Tawfik al-Ammouri; dozens of olive trees and almonds were uprooted.

Army and settlers bulldozed the farmlands in order to pave a new settlement road, 25 meters wide.

Ghneim added that residents managed to temporarily stop the bulldozing of their fields, and filed complaints to the Israeli police in Gush Atzion.

A senior official of the Israeli ‘Civil Administration Office” in Gush Atzion, came to the area after a series of complaints were filed, and claimed that the settlers are acting on their own without any authorization from the army.