Israeli forces destroy Palestinian home, restaurant in West Bank after Jewish National Fund claim
Israeli forces on Monday demolished the home and restaurant of a Palestinian family in the Makhrour area west of Beit Jala in the West Bank after years of threats.
The Cassia family lived in the house and owned a nearby restaurant, which was located on a hill with spectacular views of the surrounding area.
For decades their property has been under threat of demolition because Israeli authorities said they lacked the necessary building permits.
In 2017, the Israeli Jewish National Fund (JNF) presented a document to the Israeli High Court in 2017 allegedly showing that they owned the land the restaurant was situated on since 1969.
The Cassia family, who are Palestinian-Christians, deny ever selling it to the JNF or anyone else. However, on 29 July the Israeli high court ruled that the family's home and restaurant could be demolished.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organisation which acquires land for Jewish settlement in Israel and the occupied territories, have been making increasing efforts to dispossess Palestinians of their land, through its subsidiary Himanuta.
It recently petitioned Israeli authorities to evacuate an entire Palestinian village in the West Bank, Arab al-Ramadin, based on a claim to a small piece of its land.
Alice Cassia told The New Arab that Israeli forces accompanied by bulldozers had demolished the house and restaurant on Monday. The family of five were given a limited time to remove their belongings from the home but did not have time collect personal items from the restaurant.
Hassan Breijiya, of the Committee against Settlements in Bethlehem, told Palestinian news agency WAFA that "occupation forces ambushed the family, who were about to obtain an order to stop the demolition after appealing the [High Court's] decision. Israeli forces carried out the demolition illegally".
The Cassia family estimate the value of their losses at approximately 500,000 Israeli shekels ($140,000). The restaurant was their only source of income. The family are now living in tents on the site of their demolished home with Alice saying, "we will not leave the land we own".
The Israeli organisation Peace Now has described the JNF as "The Fund for the Expulsion of Palestinians" and says that it operates "through greed and cruelty".
Israel has demolished many Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the past.