Israeli security forces dismantle Palestinian protest camp

Ramallah/Jerusalem, Feb 2 (IANS) Israeli security forces used force Saturday to disperse Palestinian activists attempting to set up a camp in West Bank in protest of Israeli expansion of settlement, witnesses and medics said, reported Xinhua.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades Saturday afternoon to disperse dozens of Palestinian activists who were erecting a "tent village" near the West Bank village of Burin to protest Israeli plans to confiscate the land for settlement expansions, witnesses said.

Medics said more than 20 activists fainted after inhaling tear gas and were treated at the scene.

The activists pitched eight tents and decorated them with Palestinian flags in the mountainous area in south of Nablus, which the Israeli army has announced as a closed zone months ago. They named the tent camp "Al-Nawateer", and said 80 percent of its land was used or allocated for the use of Jewish settlement activities.

Clashes erupted as Israeli soldiers dismantled the tents. According to the Times of Israel website, settlers nearby were hurling stones at the protesters. Israeli website Ynet said a settler sustained light injuries and a Palestinian sustained injuries the severity of which is unclear.

The Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson unit is yet to confirm the details of the report.

Five Palestinians were arrested during clashes with Israeli forces, local sources reported.

This is the fourth camp of this kind erected by Palestinian protesters in the past month against Israel's expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

In January, Israeli security forces took down a protest camp north of Jerusalem after the Civil Administration, the authority ruling civil matters in the West Bank territories, issued an eviction order for it.

Two other camps followed in the area of Beit Iksa in recent weeks, but were immediately taken down by the Israeli security forces.

Ghassan Daghlas, head of the Palestinian popular resistance movement, said 400 activists held Saturday a sit-in in the area, adding that the Israeli army intensified its presence there, blocking roads leading to the tent village.

The village is located in Area B of the West Bank, where Israel retains security control while the Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) mandate is limited to administrative issues.

The activists started building tent villages since the beginning of 2013, in a bid to draw attention to the confiscation of lands before Israel starts any activity on the lands.

On Thursday, an investigation committee formed by the United Nations Human Rights Council called on Israel to stop settlement expansions in the lands it occupied in 1967. The investigators urged Israel to evacuate its settlements in the West Bank.

The settlement activities caused Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to break down in 2010.

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