The Israeli army has ordered hundreds of Palestinian Bedouin to leave their communities in a remote West Bank area while it conducts military exercises there.

The military says the order is temporary, and that the Palestinians are living illegally in closed military zones.

The Bedouins said they have lived in Wadi al-Maleh, in the northern West Bank, for decades, making a living by herding animals. They claim Israeli officials are pressuring them to leave.

“These exercises have driven away more than 400 people, women, children and elderly people, and could have taken place elsewhere,” Aref Daraghmeh, a Palestinian municipal official, told AFP.

The army responded saying that “due to a military exercise… and in order to ensure the safety of the local inhabitants, temporary eviction notices were distributed today to the residents of the illegal structures located in a closed military zone.”

While the army has issued temporary evacuation orders in the past, Bedouins say they have increased in frequency. They say it is distressing for their children and livestock to move, and that many of them have nowhere else to go.