Israeli forces on Saturday removed tents set up by Palestinians in an open area in the southern West Bank in an attempt to reclaim the land, according to Palestinian activists.

The activists say they are trying to secure farm land for local villagers in areas where Israel plans to build new settlements, near Hebron.

Around three dozen Palestinians from nearby villages as well as activists had attempted to set up the tent village they named Canaan, the fifth in the West Bank in the past few weeks.

Israeli soldiers attacked them, declared the area a closed military zone and pushed them off, at times spraying activists with foul water, then took down most tents, activists said.

The villagers and activists however refused to leave, insisting they would rebuild their tent village. "It is our natural right to develop, reclaim, improve, use, and live on all our lands, free and without threats from the occupiers," said one activist, Mazen Qumsiyeh.

The first Palestinian attempt to build a protest tent village, named Bab al-Shams, came in January in an area east of Jerusalem known as E-1, where Israel plans to build a large settlement.

The three other attempts were staged on land north of Jerusalem, and near Jenin and Nablus in the north of the West Bank. All were taken down by the Israeli army.