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Israel Evicts 80 Settlers from West Bank Buildings

Israeli security forces stand guard as Jewish settlers are forced out of two homes in the West Bank city of Hebron, Jan. 22, 2016.

Israel has thwarted a new Jewish settlement attempt in a historic town in the occupied West Bank. But settlement activity is continuing elsewhere.

Israeli security forces evicted 80 Jewish settlers who moved into two buildings in the West Bank town of Hebron. The properties are located near the site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The settlers, who moved in on Thursday, say they purchased the buildings legally from their Palestinian owner.

About 850 Jews live among 170,000 Palestinians in Hebron, which has been a flash point during four months of violence.

Malachi Levinger is a local settlement leader.

"When Jews are the victims of terrorist attacks, their response is to build," said Levinger.

Israel’s defense minister said the settlers were evicted because they did not comply with the law: They failed to obtain the required permits and did not coordinate the move with the army.

The eviction came a day after Israel angered the Palestinians and the United States by approving the expropriation of 154 hectares of land near the West Bank town of Jericho.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called for United Nations intervention.

"We are contacting the Americans, the Europeans, others in the international community. We are consulting with them because I think we should go to the Security Council with a resolution only and solely for the colonial settlement enterprise. That's what we need to do," said Erekat.

The U.S. State Department said the land expropriation "calls into question Israel's commitment to a two-state solution."