Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians south of Hebron
Published Saturday 02/11/2013 (updated) 03/11/2013 10:02
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Saturday detained two Palestinians from Yatta, south of Hebron, a local committee said.
Ratib Jbour, coordinator of the popular committee for the region, said that 20 Israeli settlers from the local settlement of Mitzpe Yair attacked Palestinian farmers and shepherds with their guard dogs, before Israeli soldiers intervened and detained two of Palestinians who had come under attack.
Said Mohammad Ulyan Awad, 42, and Jameel Ahmad Ulyan Awad, 48, were detained at the scene and taken to an unknown location.
The attack occurred in an area belonging to the Palestinians but on which settlers have erected tents and an illegal outpost.
Jbour added that an Israeli court had previously ordered the return of the lands to their original owners, but that the Israeli army had refused to carry out the order and dismantle the tents, and had prevented a Palestinian family from reaching their land.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said that about "40 Palestinians and activists gathered," but that Israeli forces subsequently declared the area a "closed military zone."
When two Palestinians "went in anyways," she added, the Israeli forces detained them.
The South Hebron Hills, known locally as Masafer Yatta, lie almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Around 3,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal Jewish-only settlements in the Yatta region, according to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.
The safety of these settlers is often given as an excuse for forced displacement of Palestinians who live in the area.