BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished a restaurant in Beit Jala on Thursday under the pretext of lacking a building permit, Wafa news agency reported.

Local residents said that bulldozers arrived in the al-Makhrour area of Beit Jala at dawn protected by soldiers. Israeli forces then sealed off the area and surrounded the restaurant before demolishing it, local residents said. The property was owned by Ramzi Qaisyeh.

A woman stands near her house as an Israeli bulldozer, in the background,
uproots olive trees in the West Bank city of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, on
March 3, 2010. (MaanImages/Luay Sababa)


The Mayor of Beit Jala Raji Zeidan said that Israeli forces have been targeting the al-Makhrour area of Beit Jala in an effort to force residents to leave their land for settlement expansion.

The largely Christian town of Beit Jala is flanked by Gilo and Har Gilo settlements to the north and north-west.

The proximity of illegal settlements and the route of Israel’s separation wall have put increasing pressure on village land, with several areas facing the threat of annexation.

In October 2011, Israeli forces issued a military order to confiscate 37,000 square meters of private land from near the Cremisan Monastery in Beit Jala.

In December, Israeli forces demolished several houses in the al-Makhrour area under the pretext of lacking building permits.

Israeli forces then demolished four ancient buildings and uprooted 52 electricity poles in al-Makhrour in April.

The area is considered a natural heritage site by the Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation but is slated to be cut off from Beit Jala by Israel’s separation wall, the center says.

From 2000 to 2007, the Civil Administration approved 5 percent of the applications for building permits submitted by Palestinians in Area C.

Most Israeli settlements are located in Area C.