Israeli troops arrested Farid Al-Atrash, a lawyer from Bethlehem as he was among other Palestinians protesting the presence of Israeli settlers who occupied a piece of land east of the town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem in order to build a new settlement on that land, Thursday morning.Salah El-Taamari, governor of Bethlehem told IMEMC over the phone that ‘Israel is not showing any sign of positiveness towards allowing a Palestinian independent state to be built, […] they continue to occupy more land and to build more illegal settlements on them.

One of the settlers who refused to disclose his name denied the existance of Palestine in this land and insisted that it is called Judea. ‘This is not Palestine, this is Judea, the Roman emperor Hadrian named it Palestine, but before that it was Judea, the land of Christ is Judea, and the Koran says this is the land of ‘Bani Israel’ children of Israel, and we are Bani Israel,’ he said.

On Wednesday, the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), revealed information about Israeli intentions to build a new settlement on this land.

Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that dozens of armed settlers rushed into the area accompanied with Israeli army and put an Israeli flag on the land.

A group of residents from Beit Sahour and Bethlehem arrived at the area, Israeli soldiers did not allow them to enter the site, Fared Al Atrash a local human-right activist protested the soldiers’ actions of allowing the settlers into the site and not the Palestinians. Israeli border police kidnapped Al Atrash and released him several hours later for standing in front of the settlers cars.

This land, known as Ush Ghrab (Crock’s Nest) was occupied by the Israeli army since 1967 and was used as a military base.

The Israeli army unilaterally withdrew from this land in 2006. The Municipality of Beit Sahour, which owns most of the land in that area, immediately started plans to build public gardens for the local community of Bethlehem area.

The project was realized through funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a number of other charitable organizations.