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Stakes raised in Hebron stand-off


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Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron have been involved in further clashes with Israeli security forces and local Palestinians.



Settlers refuse to leave the legally contested house in Hebron



Tensions rose after Israel declared a large building occupied by settlers to be a "closed military area".


Israeli forces then barred Jews from entering Hebron's Palestinian section.

Israeli politicians say the building will be forcibly evacuated if no agreement can be reached with the settlers.


Haaretz, the Israeli daily, reports that Defence Minister Ehud Barak is due to meet the settlers on Thursday, in a last-ditch effort to salvage a peaceful outcome.


Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said on Wednesday: "It is clear to all of us, including the settlers, that this issue would be best solved in agreement. However, if need be, the security system will use force."


'House of contention'


President Shimon Peres also weighed in, accusing the settlers of damaging the country. "Whoever throws a stone at a soldier attacks the state, and we cannot allow that."


However, settlers insist that they will not go voluntarily. "We will refuse any compromise," said US-born settler David Wilder. "This expulsion is illegal."


The violence began two days ago amid rumours that settlers were about to be evicted from the four-storey house.


Jewish supporters have joined the settlers as they refuse to leave the house, in defiance of a court order.

Hundreds of settlers and supporters continue to blockade the building, throwing stones at Palestinians and the police.


Reports say some Palestinians have retaliated by throwing stones at the settlers and that a number of Palestinians and Israelis have been arrested.


Several people are reported to have been injured.


About 600 Jewish settlers live in the mainly Palestinian city, with several thousand more in surrounding settlements.


Ownership of the building, known as the "house of peace", is in dispute.

It has recently been dubbed the "house of contention" in the Israeli press.


The Israeli military says Jewish settlers in other parts of the West Bank have also blocked roads and thrown stones at Palestinian cars.


Several hundred hard-line religious settlers live in the centre of Hebron under heavy military guard amid some 150,000 Palestinians.


The settlers say that they bought the house in question in a legal transaction from its Palestinian owner for nearly $1m (£660,000), but he says he pulled out of the deal.


Israel's supreme court ordered the eviction in November but settlers have refused to leave.


They have been involved in several clashes since the order was issued, and have desecrated a mosque and a Muslim cemetery.


Hebron is holy to both Jews and Muslims as the site of the cave that Abraham bought as a burial site for his wife Sarah.

All settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

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Jewish youth riot again in Hebron


November 30, 2008


JERUSALEM (JTA) -- About 50 Jewish youth rioted in Hebron, damaging dozens of Palestinian cars.


The group also slashed the tires of a border guard's car and threw stones at Palestinian homes during the night rampage on Nov. 29.


The day before, Jewish activists and Palestinians threw stones at each other outside the disputed "Peace House," the four-story building located halfway between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Three Palestinians and two Jewish youth were injured in the exchanges.


The violence has been repeated on several occasions in the past two weeks, since Israel's High Court of Justice upheld a government order requiring Jewish families living in the disputed building to vacate pending the establishment of ownership. The families remain, along with Jewish activists who hope to prevent a forced evacuation.


Four boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested early Nov. 28 for cutting the fence around the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba, Ynet reported. A girl, 17, also was arrested for throwing stones at an Arab neighborhood in Hebron. The five teens arrested are not residents of Hebron.

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