Palestine’s official Wafa news agency, citing a local source, reported on Monday that the illegal settlers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, bulldozed 400 square meters of land near Ibrahimi Mosque, also called the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Tawfik Jahshan, head of the legal department of the Hebron Reconstruction Committee, said the Old City of al-Khalil is a cultural and natural heritage site of rare and exceptional value, which requires preservation and protection.
He called on the international community and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) member states to assume their responsibilities towards the Israeli regime’s ongoing violations against Palestinians, stressing the need to take effective measures and protect the intellectual and cultural heritage of Palestine.
He also appealed to the Muslim community to promptly intervene in order “to stop this destruction and this escalation and dangerous practices by the occupation and its settlers aimed at seizing the Palestinian land and altering its history and culture.”
The city of al-Khalil is a flashpoint of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers.
Despite being home to about 200,000 Palestinians, significant parts of the city’s center are already occupied by about 800 Israeli settlers.
The city includes the site known to Muslims as Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is revered by both faiths.
The holy site complex is believed to mark the burial sites of Prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In 2017, UNESCO recognized Ibrahimi Mosque as an endangered Palestinian heritage site.
Separately on Monday, Israeli forces detained 17 Palestinians, including two injured teens, from various parts of the occupied West Bank as the regime steps up its campaign of mass arrests in the occupied territory.
Wafa news agency, citing local and security sources, reported that Israeli forces re-arrested two former prisoners–one from the al-Tira neighborhood of the central West Bank city of Ramallah and the other from Birzeit town, north of the city.
The sources said Israeli forces also detained two other Palestinians after raiding their houses in Jalazone refugee camp, northeast of Ramallah.
Meanwhile, Israeli police have arrested five others from al-Qarmi neighborhood in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds.
They rounded up two others, including a former prisoner, in separate raids in Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem al-Quds and al-Thuri neighborhood.
The sources also confirmed an Israeli military raid in al-Khader town, located 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, resulting in the detention of two teens, aged 16 and 17, who sustained wounds from Israeli military gunfire several months ago.
Reports of several raids have also come from the town of Beit Fajjar, as well as a number of villages, east and southeast of Bethlehem.
In recent months, Israeli forces have frequently raided the houses of Palestinians in the West Bank, arresting dozens of people, who are then transferred to Israeli prisons, where they are kept without any charges.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Much of the international community regards the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on the occupied lands.
The Israeli regime has faced widespread global condemnation over settlement constructions in the occupied Palestinian lands.
The United Nations Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, in December 2016, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.