The Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA) reported Thursday that a number of extremist settlers occupied privately-owned Palestinian lands that belong to residents of the Al-Khader town, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.Ahmad Salah, Coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Al-Khader, told WAFA that the settlers occupied 2 Dunams (0.494 Acres) located in Irq Ath-Theeba area, close to the Efrat illegal settlement that was built on lands belonging to the residents. The two Dunams belong to resident Yousef Mahmoud Ghneim.

Salah said that Israeli soldiers prevented the villagers from reaching their lands, and added that the army requires all residents, who have lands close to Efrat settlement, to obtain permits from “security coordinator” of the settlement, in order to be able to enter their own lands and orchards.

He further stated that Al-Khader is facing a serious escalation as Israeli settlers, protected by the army, carried out several recent attacks, while the settlers also occupied large areas of Palestinian lands in order to build parks in different areas including “Ein Masour” and “Khallit Al-Fahem”.

Salah voiced an appeal to human rights and legal groups to intervene and stop the Israeli polices of land theft practiced against the reidents, and to ensure the residents are able to enter their vineyards this season, especially due to significant losses the villagers endured in previous seasons as the army prevented them from entering their lands.

In August, a group of Israeli settlers planted a Palestinian land that they illegally took over in May, near Al-Khader town. The settlers were seen planting 5 Dunams of farmland that they illegally occupied three months ago.