Ma'an News Agency
June 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli forces deployed around a Palestinian home south of Jerusalem following fierce clashes between local landowners and settlers attempting to expand a road in the area, onlookers said.

The settlers were using bulldozers to enlarge a street in advance of plans to install a mobile home in Beit Safafa, witnesses said. Many settlements in the occupied West Bank began as simple structures placed on Palestinian land.

One member of the Salah family, which owns the land in the Jerusalem-area district, said Palestinians threw stones at the settlers preventing them from setting up the structure. The settlers initially departed but returned with a large number of soldiers shortly thereafter, the witness explained.

Calls to Israel's Border Police paramilitary unit were not immediately returned.

Follows demolition orders

Tensions were already heightened after staff of Israel's Jerusalem municipality, accompanied by border guards, entered the Salah home Thursday and delivered stop-work orders. A week earlier, orders were delivered to four Salah men, three of them brothers. All four were ordered to appear at the magistrates court on 29 June.

The orders, known locally as "demolition orders," demand that homeowners appear before a magistrates court to defend allegations, in this case that the family built their homes without permits. Because legal action at the court rarely succeeds, the stop-work orders essentially constitute a demolition order.

A Salah home was taken over by settlers in April, displacing an elderly couple of some 90 years who said they had lived in the same building for the duration of their 70-year marriage. Their home was seized and occupied by settlers according to a court order. "People have no other place to go," Ismail Salah explained at the time.

Half of Beit Safafa fell under Israel's Jerusalem municipality when its borders were expanded as a result of the 1967 occupied of the Palestinian territories and 1980 Jerusalem Law, which declares the city, including its expanded borders, to be Israel's "undivided, eternal capital."


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