Israeli Forces Quell March Protesting Takeover of Church Property near Hebron, Injuries Reported

HEBRON, July 11, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli forces quelled Saturday a weekly march calling to provide protection to al-Baraka church compound, near al-‘Arrub refugee camp between Hebron and Bethlehem, against settlers’ attempts to take over it.

Palestinian and international anti-wall and settlement activists organized a weekly march in protest of Israeli ‘Defense’ Minister Moshe Yaalon’s approval of the renovation of Beit al-Baraka church compound, which settlers claim they have previously purchased, as a prelude to the construction of a new settlement in its place.

Protesters raised flags of Palestine and chanted slogans condemning Israeli occupation policies aimed at expropriating Palestinian land.

Prepared to forcefully quell the march, Israeli forces cordoned off the area and physically assaulted protesters using their rifle butts, causing several protesters to sustain bruises and injuries.

Two weeks ago, Israeli forces summoned leading Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia Atallah (Theodosios) Hanna while participating in a similar march.

Hanna was handed a notice to appear before Israeli intelligence in al-Maskobiya interrogation and detention center in Jerusalem.

The church compound has turned recently into a scene of ongoing Palestinian marches against its takeover with Israeli forces each time violently quelling protesters and beating

In a statement issued in June 2015, Popular committee’s activist, Yousif Abu Maria, called on the owner of the building, who carries the Swedish citizenship, to issue a statement regarding the legal status of Beit al-Baraka building, which was constructed as a free tuberculosis treatment center, more than 70 years ago on 35 Dunams and was shut down in 1983.

To be noted, the attorney representing the owner of the building denied settlers’ claims that they purchased the property.