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Israeli forces seize, level farmland in Tulkarem

Dec. 8, 2015 6:06 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 8, 2015 6:09 P.M.)
(MaanImages)
TULKAREM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday seized and leveled Palestinian farmland in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, locals told Ma'an.

Israeli forces seized 26 dunams (6.4 acres) of farmland, destroying a large greenhouse and uprooting more than 200 olive trees in the village of Izbet Shofa, Muneer Ismail, the owner of the land, told Ma'an.

Ismail and his family pleaded with Israeli forces to postpone the demolition of their greenhouse and removal of olive trees so they could have time to take their case to court, but the forces refused and continued to level the area.

Ismail said his greenhouse, which he used to grown tomatoes, was worth more than 100,000 shekels ($25,794).

Izbet Shofa village, an agricultural community, is home to around 1,000 residents, according to documentation by the Land Research Center.

Residents said Israeli forces told them that the land was seized because it had not been used for farming for more than 15 years. 

Ismail said residents had been given the same reasoning for a land seizure in 2011, when Israeli authorities seized and leveled land between the village and a nearby illegal Israeli settlement.

Residents suspect Israeli forces seized the land to transfer ownership to residents of a nearby Israeli settlement.

Settlement groups wield significant influence in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government which is dominated by members who promote settlement expansion and have publicly opposed the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Continued expansion of settlements, considered illegal under international law, has been a major obstacle for potential movement of peace talks, which have been stalled for more than a year.

(MaanImages)

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