Israeli troops detain activists near Ein Hijleh

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Israeli forces have detained a number of pro-Palestinian activists in a raid on a flashpoint village in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank.

The activists were arrested on Wednesday on their way to the village of Ein Hijleh, near the city of Ariha (Jericho), and transferred to an unknown location.

Palestinian officials said several reporters were also among the detainees.

Ein Hinjleh was thrown into a media spotlight after hundreds of activists seized dozens of abandoned homes in the village in late January in a show of protest against Tel Aviv’s aggressive towards Palestinians.

They camped down in the village after Tel Aviv’s announcement that it would annex the Jordan Valley to Israel as part of the ongoing negotiations brokered by the US.

The protesters also denounced Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes and its illegal settlement expansions on occupied Palestinian lands.

The campaigners were under a siege for days before Israeli soldiers attacked them with live rounds and stun grenades.

Activists’ Twitter posts indicated that Israeli forces combed through Ein Hijleh on Wednesday and forced out the protesters, who had returned to the village earlier in the day.

On January 30, James Rawley, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories, condemned Israel’s demolition of 36 homes in the Jordan Valley village of Khirbat Jamal.

Nearly 70 people, including dozens of children, were displaced in the aftermath of the demolition.

Rawley’s office said more than 1,000 people were displaced in 2013 in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) after their homes were razed for not having Israeli permits, “which are virtually impossible to obtain.”

Human rights groups say the Israeli demolitions are part of an ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians.

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