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Jewish settlers desecrate Hebron mosque, graves
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HEBRON, West Bank: Jewish settlers angry at an Israeli court order for their eviction from a house in Hebron desecrated a mosque and tombs in the flash point West Bank City before dawn yesterday, witnesses said.

The settlers scrawled extremely derogatory words against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and "Death to the Arabs" on the front of a mosque.

They also drew the Israeli emblem, the Star of David, on several gravestones in a Muslim graveyard, the witnesses said.

The mosque and graveyard both lie near the Hebron house where dozens of hard-line Jewish settlers are defying the order by the Israeli High Court setting last Wednesday a deadline for them to leave or face eviction.

Israeli soldiers are on round-the-clock patrol in the tense neighborhood.

The ruling, which was slammed by settler leaders, follows a series of violent clashes between Israeli security forces and hard-line Jews seeking to erect unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.

The court rejected an appeal by two extreme right-wing organizations against a government order to evacuate the house, which the settlers claim they had purchased from a Palestinian, who denies selling the house.

The four-story house was occupied in March 2007 by dozens of hard-line Jewish settlers who have dubbed it "the house of peace."

The court ruling said the settlers "should turn to the appropriate legal bodies to prove their ownership over the house and refrain from taking the law into their own hands by occupying the property against the will of its owner."

The settler representatives claimed the house had been bought for $700,000, but Palestinian Faez Rajabi said he had documents proving he was the legal owner and that the deal had never been completed.

While the court ruling said there were "contradictions and queries" in Rajabi's claims, it also said that documents presented by the settlers in a bid to show ownership of the house "were found by police investigators to be forged."

Hebron settlers are among the most extreme in the West Bank, and security officials fear violence if the house is forcefully evacuated.

Early yesterday, a soldier was lightly wounded by a chemical substance sprayed at him by settlers near the house, the army said.

Military vehicles were also vandalized, it said.

Hebron's Palestinian governor, Hussein Al-Araj, urged Israeli authorities to halt the settler violence and carry out the court decision.

"What happened is unacceptable," he said. "The Israelis have to enforce the law and stop the suffering of the Palestinians who are living next to settlers. They have to take the settlers from this house and protect the Palestinians."

Source > 
Arab News | nov 21

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