The Israeli army has forced the evacuation of hundreds of Palestinian activists protesting Israeli settlement building in the southern West Bank, dismantling the tent encampment they erected in an effort to reclaim their occupied land.
"We came here to build a Palestinian village upon Palestinian land, and to freely use our land in the way we want as Palestinians have rights and own this land," said activist Younis Araar.
Declaring the site a "closed military zone," the Israeli army overran two encampments early Saturday, dismantling the steel-framed tents being erected and dispersing over 100 activists, AFP reports.
Soldiers dismantled tents that were being erected in two different areas near the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank, and forced activists to leave, the Palestinian witnesses said.
At the first site no arrests were made, but soldiers used water cannon to disperse activists at the second and arrested six people, including two photographers.
Two protesters were injured and taken to hospital in nearby Hebron.
While clearing the second encampment, five Palestinian and two Israeli activists were arrested, according to an Israeli army spokesperson.
The activists attempted to build the tent village—named Canaan—in an effort to secure farmland for local villagers in areas where Israel plans to build new settlements, Haaretz reports.
"It is our natural right to develop, reclaim, improve, use, and live on all our lands, free and without threats from the occupiers," said activist Mazen Qumsiyeh.
This is the fifth such protest camp erected in the West Bank since mid-January.