KHIRBET AL-TAWEEL, West Bank (Reuters) — Israeli forces demolished several structures, including a mosque, in a
Palestinian village on Tuesday, the day a deadline for a deal in
now-frozen peace talks expired.
A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred soldiers deployed in
Khirbet al-Taweel, in the occupied West Bank, 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 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-storey family houses,
animal shelters and a communal well. Locals said around 30 people
were made homeless.
The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for
"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
Speaking on local radio, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top Palestinian
official, said that "unless acts like this cease completely" there
was no room to return to U.S.-sponsored peace talks with "this
expansionist, racist occupier".
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.
The pact envisages the formation of a government of non-political
technocrats within five weeks and a Palestinian election six months
later. Israel said such a government would effectively be backed by
Hamas and could not be a peace partner.
(Writing by Noah Browning; editing by Jeffrey Heller and Jeremy