BETHLEHEM, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 (WAFA) – Jewish settlers planted forest trees in Palestinian land south of the southern West Bank biblical city of Bethlehem as a prelude for taking it over, today said Diab Mashaleh, head of Jabah village council where the targeted land it located.

He told WAFA that residents of the village were surprised to see settlers, and under army protection, planting forest trees in a hilly area about 300 meters away from the nearest home in the village and without any prior notice.

He said the land amounts to thousands of dunums and part of it has been planted with olive trees for decades.

Mashaleh explained that the army had closed most of that area and often would prevent local farmers from reaching their land to cultivate it even after coordinating their visit to their land with the army.

He said Israel’s intentions in taking over that land were clear when they would not allow farmers to reach their land and after closing a road to nearby town of Sourif with dirt since the year 2000, which was later replaced by a metal gate, making movement of Jabah villagers, mainly high school students seeking to reach their schools in Sourif, very difficult and arduous.