Israeli landgrabbers evicted from private Palestinian land

Israeli police evicts settlers from the West Bank settlement of Ofra, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Israeli forces began evacuating nine homes in the settlement following a Supreme Court decision that ruled they were built on private Palestinian land. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Updated 01 March 2017
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Israeli landgrabbers evicted from private Palestinian land

OFRA, West Bank: Israeli police began removing settlers and hundreds of supporters on Tuesday from nine houses built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Police carried some of the settlers and protesters out of the red-roofed structures in the settlement of Ofra, while others walked out, escorted by officers.
Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the demolition of nine buildings in the settlement of more than 3,000 people after finding that those homes were constructed on land where Palestinians proved ownership.
Such judicial rulings upholding Palestinian property rights have riled Israel’s right-wing, as it promotes plans to expand construction in settlements built on occupied territory Palestinians seek for a state.
In one home in Ofra, police and protesters, mainly youths, linked arms and swayed in prayer before the youngsters, offering passive resistance, were taken outside.
“We feel that this is not right at all, what’s being done here: the destruction of these homes in the center of a Jewish town, in the center of a populated town that was established legally 42 years ago,” said Eliana Passentin, a spokeswoman for the local settler regional council.
There was little initial sign of the kind of violence that accompanied a larger-scale evacuation on Feb. 2 of Amona, a West Bank settlement-outpost built without Israeli government permission in 1995.
More than 100 youngsters had protested against the removal of Amona’s 300 settlers. Some 60 officers and at least four demonstrators were hurt in scuffles there that included bleach being thrown at police.
Most countries consider all Israeli settlements on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal. Israel disagrees, citing biblical, historical and political links to the land as well as security interests.
Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, which Israeli forces left in 2005, with East Jerusalem as its capital. They say settlement construction could deny them a viable and contiguous country.
Some 550,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem, areas that are home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.
Three weeks ago, Israel’s parliament retroactively legalized about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land. The new law did not apply to Amona or the nine dwellings in Ofra because of standing court rulings.
Since US President Donald Trump took office in January, Israel has announced plans to build 6,000 more settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
But at a White House news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Feb. 15, Trump startled the Israeli leader by saying he would like to see him “hold back on settlements for a bit.” Netanyahu later said he hoped to “reach an understanding” with Trump on settlements.


Palestinians say one killed as Israeli troops fire on Gaza protest

Updated 30 min 24 sec ago
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Palestinians say one killed as Israeli troops fire on Gaza protest

  • The border between Gaza and Israel has been the scene of weekly Palestinian demonstrations since March 30
  • The Israeli army says it is defending its border against rioting protesters who have sought to breach the fence and enter Israel

GAZA: Israeli forces opened fire during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing a Palestinian youth, the Palestinian health ministry said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops came under attack on the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, stones and firebombs were thrown at them and they responded with “riot dispersal means.” Live rounds were fired according to “open-fire regulations,” she said.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, said 15-year-old Moamen Ibrahim Abu Eyada was shot dead by Israeli soldiers east of the town of Rafah, which lies at the southern end of the Gaza Strip and borders Egypt.
The border between Gaza and Israel has been the scene of weekly Palestinian demonstrations since March 30 and protests have recently taken place late at night, as was the case on Wednesday.
The Israeli military said earlier there had been several incidents along the Gaza-Israel border on Wednesday “with the participation of hundreds of rioters” who rolled burning tires and hurled firebombs and rocks at soldiers. It said there were no Israeli casualties.
At least 182 Palestinians have been killed in the protests, according to Palestinian health officials.
The Israeli army says it is defending its border against rioting protesters who have sought to breach the fence and enter Israel.
Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders and has fought three wars there in the past decade against Hamas Islamist militants who control the territory.
With Egypt, Israel has imposed a blockade that the World Bank says has brought Gaza’s economy to crisis, leaving its 2 million people with limited access to health care, clean water and electricity.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2014.