SALFIT (Ma’an) -- Israeli settlers on Tuesday surveyed land belonging to the Palestinian community of Izbat Abu Basal in the occupied West Bank’s Salfit district, witnesses said.
Witnesses told Ma’an that settlers marked the land in what they believed to be an indication that the area would soon be leveled by Israeli forces.
The small community has lost land before to the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, located around eight kilometers east of Izbat Abu Basal, according to field researcher Khalid Maali.
Israeli authorities in 2001 cut down 500 of the community’s trees on the grounds that the land was a part of Ariel settlement, and was told after bringing their case to an Israeli court that the land was not legally theirs, according a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma'an they were not aware of any recent surveys conducted on land in the Izbat Abu Basal area.
Israel has dramatically stepped up the demolition of Palestinian property this year, in many cases to make way for the expansion of Israeli settlements.
The UN reported last week that over 400 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been displaced due to Israeli demolitions during the first six weeks of 2016 alone.