Israeli sources have announced that authorities are planning to confiscate 4,000,000 m² (4,000 dunams/1,000 acres) of Palestinian-owned land near the illegal Gush Etzion settlement area.The area is located 3 km east of the Green Line, near Jaba’a village, and is surrounded by the Gush Etzion bloc and the Apartheid Wall.

Sources informed, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), that the Israeli government has given the land owners 45 days to submit appeals against the court’s decision.

Muhammad Ghuneimat, who is mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Surif, told Ma’an that Israeli forces posted signs in private olive orchards in the area, giving warning that they have been confiscated by the Israeli government.

The confiscated fields belong to Palestinians from the towns of Surif, Husan, al-Jabaa and Bethlehem, according to Mr. Ghuneimat.

The announcement reportedly comes as a response, by Israeli authorities, to the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in an area near Gush Etzion, in June. However, no solid evidence has actually ever been presented in backing Israel’s official claims regarding the case, with critics pointing to the distinct possibility that Israel either created or simply co-opted the incident as a prelude to initiating their recent military offensive on the Gaza Strip.

See related: New Reports Show That Murder of 3 Israeli Teenage Settlers Was Not Carried Out by Hamas

The Etzion settlements council welcomed the announcement, saying in a statement that it ‘paves the way for the new city of Gevaot.’