BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops on Thursday morning accompanied bulldozers to the west Bethlehem village of Wadi Fukin where bulldozers destroyed 300 newly planted olive trees, despite locals' attempts to stop them.
Head of Wadi Fukin local council Ahmad Sukkar told Ma'an that 50,000 square meters of land were leveled and ancient dry stone walls were demolished by the Israeli forces.
Clashes broke out between Israel forces and locals as they tried to defend their lands while bulldozers leveled the fields.
Sukkar said that land is private property belonging to Mahmoud Ali Atiyyeh, Ishaq Salih Manasrah, Jamal Mahmoud Atiyyeh and Amin Mousa Atiyyeh.
Sukkar added that the Israeli forces had sent warrants to the owners claiming that their private land was Israeli state property.
A representative for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories could not be reached for comment.
Israeli authorities regularly declare private Palestinian lands or historically communal lands used by Palestinians in the West Bank as Israeli state land. These lands are frequently confiscated as a result, and portions of these areas are often rezoned later in order to build Jewish-only settlements.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.