Israel has torn down twice as many Palestinian homes in 2011 as it did in 2010 in the occupied land to build Jewish settlements, human rights groups say.
© Press TVA Palestinian man stands as Israeli forces destroy his house.

Twenty human rights groups, including UK-based Amnesty International and US-based Human Rights Watch, released a statement on Tuesday, warning of the escalation in Israeli settlement construction and Jewish settlers' violence against Palestinians, Reuters reported.

The rights organizations urged the Middle East Quartet group -- the US, UN, European Union (EU) and Russia -- to pressure Tel Aviv to "reverse its settlement policies and freeze all demolitions that violate international law."

"The Quartet should call ongoing settlement expansion and house demolitions what they are: violations of international humanitarian law that Israel should stop," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

The statement cited UN figures as showing that Israel demolished more than 500 Palestinian homes and other structures in 2011 and displaced over 1,000 Palestinians, which is the greatest number in a single year since 2005.

The figures also demonstrate that Jewish settlers' attacks on Palestinians have climbed to their worst level since 2005, with a 50 percent increase compared to 2010, and more than a 160 percent rise over 2009.

According to the statement, Israel endorsed plans to construct 4,000 more illegal settler units in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) last year.

The statement comes after Israel approved on Monday the construction of 40 more illegal settlements and a farm in two new settler communities near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in central West Bank.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed "deep concern" over the announcement.

The United Nations and the EU call the settlements built on the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds illegal under the international law.

In September 2010, Israel resumed settlement construction in the occupied territories after a 10-month partial freeze, prompting the Palestinian Authority to break off direct talks with Tel Aviv.

Israel occupied the West Bank as well as East al-Quds, which Palestinians consider the capital of their homeland, during the 1967 Six-Day War.