Israeli settlers have taken over two Palestinian houses in the south of the occupied West Bank, claiming they had bought them despite the Palestinian law banning such transaction. "A group of dozens of settlers accompanied by rabbis broke into a building on Shuhada Street," activist Jawad Abu Eisheh told AFP of the Thursday incident in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron). There were Palestinians living in other houses in the building at the time of the forced entry, which sparked clashes with the locals. Israeli forces also turned up at the scene and deployed sound grenades to protect the settlers against the protesters. A number of Palestinians suffered injuries during the confrontation and were taken to hospital. Israeli Immigration Minister Ze'ev Elkin praised the invasion as a "determined move” to expand the Israeli presence in the city, calling on fellow Minister for Military Affairs Moshe Ya'alon “to give the settlers all the help he can, and not give in to the pressures" of the Palestinians. The occupied territories have witnessed a rise in settler violence against Palestinians in recent months. Shockwaves were sent throughout the international community in July last year, when Israeli extremists carried out an arson attack against two Palestinian houses in the West Bank town of Duma, killing Palestinian infant, Ali Dawabsheh, and fatally injuring his parents. Tensions have been running high across the occupied Palestinian territories in the recent months over Tel Aviv’s imposition of restrictions on Palestinian worshipers’ entry into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds in August last year. The tensions have also been escalated by the repeated desecration of the compound by extremist Israeli settlers, who are usually accompanied by Israeli military forces. More than 160 Palestinians, including children and women, have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of last October. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has voiced concern over “extrajudicial killing” of Palestinians by Israeli forces. By encroaching upon the Palestinians’ right to live on their land and using direct violence against them, the Israeli regime has been systematically weakening Palestinian presence and ties across the territories under its occupation.