Israeli military bulldozers started on Tuesday to construct a section of the Annexation Wall near Artas village, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The army uprooted dozens of trees such as almonds, vine grapes and evergreens.

Hamdi Ayish, head of Artas village council, said that the bulldozing is in Hasanat and Abu Al Jaratheen areas that belong to the residents of the village.

“Soldiers are uprooting hundreds of trees, and destroying the lands in order to construct settler roads and install the Wall”, Hasanat told the Palestine News Network, “Efrat settlement is only one kilometer away, and they want to annex more lands to expand it”.

Hasanat added that the village is overcrowded, and the residents are hoping to expand it to the west using their own lands, but Israel is targeted these lands to construct the Wall, and expand nearby settlements.

He added that several residents received notices from the so-called Civil Administration Office, which belongs to the Israeli army, informing them that the army intends annex their lands for the construction of the Wall as well as for “military and security concerns”.

“This is land theft, Israel is isolating the residents, and annexing their orchards”, Hasanat stated, “the residents, the Palestinian Authority, and all human rights institutions should act against these procedures”.