Israeli forces demolished several illegal structures, including a mosque, in a Palestinian village, the day a deadline for a peace deal expired.
REUTERS A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred soldiers deployed in Khirbet al-Taweel, in
the occupied West Bank Judea-Samaria, around daybreak. They guarded six bulldozers that reduced to rubble buildings that were constructed without Israeli permits. Palestinians say such documents are nearly impossible to obtain.
Palestinians saw a link between the demolitions and the passing, without a peace deal, of the April 29 deadline set when the talks began in July. Israel has also drawn Palestinian anger by continuing to expand settlements on Israeli land they seek for a state.
Villagers said the stone mosque was built in 2008, and that soldiers removed prayer rugs and holy scriptures before tearing it down. Other razed buildings included three one-story family houses, animal shelters and a communal well.
The Israeli army said in a statement that eight structures, including a “mosque in use”, were demolished because they had been built illegally inside a dangerous live-fire military training zone.
“I went to make my dawn prayers at the mosque and found the army surrounding it,” said resident Abdel Fattah Maarouf, 63. “Then they tore it down. They want this area so they can build settlements in it.” (It’s Israel’s land)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended negotiations last week after Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization signed a unity dealt with Hamas, an Islamist group that advocates Israel’s destruction.