Jewish settlers take over buildings in West Bank

2016-01-21 22:44
An Israeli settler fixes an Israeli flag on the roof of a building in Hebron. (Hazem Bader, AFP)

An Israeli settler fixes an Israeli flag on the roof of a building in Hebron. (Hazem Bader, AFP)

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Jerusalem - Dozens of Jewish settlers took over a number of Palestinian buildings in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, Israeli officials said, a day after Israel approved the expropriation of about 150ha of land in another part of the territory.

Police said about 100 settlers entered three "empty stores" Israeli media said the settlers entered two buildings near an important shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Zeev Elkin, a pro-settler lawmaker from the ruling Likud party, said in a statement the settlers entered houses that were bought legally, a claim that could not immediately be independently verified. Elkin praised the settlers for "expanding the Jewish presence" in the city.

Hebron, a city where 850 Israeli settlers live in heavily-guarded enclaves surrounded by tens of thousands of Palestinians, is a frequent flashpoint for violence. It has been a focal point in the current wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, and clashes broke out after the settlers entered the buildings.

The approval granted to the land expropriation outside of Jericho drew condemnation from Israel's most important ally, the US. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played down the plan on Thursday, calling it a "routine" survey of land whose fate hasn't yet been fully determined.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories the Palestinians want for their hoped-for state. Much of the international community view West Bank settlements as illegal.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel said it revoked the residency rights of four Palestinians living in Jerusalem and said to have carried out deadly attacks against Israelis.

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said the Palestinians were behind two fatal attacks in Jerusalem last year. In one attack, an Israeli was killed after Palestinians threw rocks at his car. The second attack on a bus killed three Israelis.

Jerusalem's Palestinians largely have not sought Israeli citizenship, and instead hold residency status. As residents, they can work and move freely inside Israel and gain access to Israeli health care and social services.

This is the first time Israel has revoked an attacker's residency since the start of a four month-long outburst of violence that has killed 25 Israelis in near-daily Palestinian attacks. Almost 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, of which just over 101 have been identified by Israel as attackers. The rest were killed in clashes with troops.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel

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