Israeli settlers have taken over two Palestinian houses in the south of the occupied West Bank, claiming they had bought them despite the Palestinian law banning such transaction.
“A group of dozens of settlers accompanied by rabbis broke into a building on Shuhada Street,” activist Jawad Abu Eisheh told AFP of the Thursday incident in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron).
There were Palestinians living in other houses in the building at the time of the forced entry, which sparked clashes with the locals.
Israeli forces also turned up at the scene and deployed sound grenades to protect the settlers against the protesters. A number of Palestinians suffered injuries during the confrontation and were taken to hospital.
Israeli Immigration Minister Ze’ev Elkin praised the invasion as a “determined move” to expand the Israeli presence in the city, calling on fellow Minister for Military Affairs Moshe Ya’alon “to give the settlers all the help he can, and not give in to the pressures” of the Palestinians.
The occupied territories have witnessed a rise in settler violence against Palestinians in recent months.
Shockwaves were sent throughout the international community in July last year, when Israeli extremists carried out an arson attack against two Palestinian houses in the West Bank town of Duma, killing Palestinian infant, Ali Dawabsheh, and fatally injuring his parents.