Israeli Settlers Seize Muslim House in Jerusalem

Israeli settlers seized a house in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem Old City’s, the owner’s family and witnesses said on Thursday, the same day an axe-wielding Palestinian man rampaged through a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, killing a 13-year-old Israeli boy and wounding a seven-year-old.

Witnesses said the Jerusalem house belonged to Nasser Jaber and was vacant, as there were works going on.

"The settlers broke down the door and changed the locks," Jaber’s father, Ali, told AFP. "We called the (Israeli) police, but instead of removing them, the police are protecting them."

He said the settlers belong to Ateret Cohanim, a far-right organization dedicated to settling as many Jews as possible in east Jerusalem, especially the Old City.

Several years ago the organization tried to take over the same house by presenting a bill of sale, which an Israeli court later said was falsified, he said.

On Thursday, the Jaber family filed another lawsuit before an Israeli court seeking to remove the settlers from their house, Jaber said.

A spokesman for Ateret Cohanim confirmed to AFP that the organization had taken over the house, insisting that it had bought it.

"We sent a couple of youth into the house," he said. "It is Jewish property and we will prove it before the court."

A spokesman for Jerusalem city police, Shmulik Ben Rubi said only that "the affair is before the courts."

Some 1,000 Israeli settlers live in houses that Aterit Cohanim says it has bought in the Old City since 1978, most of them in the Muslim quarter.

Israel captured mostly Arab east Jerusalem in 1967, later illegally annexing the city in a move not recognized by the international community.

Separately, Israeli settlers took over four empty Palestinian stores in a market in the old city Hebron, adjacent to an area where some 600 settlers live, according to witnesses.
 
Attack on Israeli Teens

Meanwhile, an alleged Palestinian perpetrator fled after attacking two boys at Bat Ayin, southwest of Bethlehem, one of the West Bank’s most radical settlements, shortly after midday, witnesses said.

The army was conducting a massive search in the area and residents of other settlements in the area were instructed to stay indoors, radio and television reported.

The boy killed was named as Shlomo Nativ, while Israeli media said the wounded seven-year-old is the son of Ofer Gamliel, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for participating in a foiled attack on a Palestinian girls’ school in Jerusalem in 2002.

"I was near the settlement offices when I saw a Palestinian with an axe running toward me," Avinoam, a witness to the attack, told Israeli television.

"I managed to block his arm, we fell to the ground and struggled but he managed to run away," the witness said.

Bat Ayin is one of the most radical settlements in the occupied West Bank. Most of its fewer than 1,000 residents are hardline settlers who normally prevent Palestinians from entering the settlement boundaries.

The election of hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, has sparked widespread concern among Palestinians and the international community for the future of the troubled peace process.

"The new Israeli government will have a zero tolerance policy toward these sort of terrorist attacks and refuses to accept them as routine," Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told AFP.

(Agencies)

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