HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) – Jewish settlers torched a rooftop enclosure of a Palestinian man’s home in the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, a Palestinian police spokesman said.
The United Nations as well as Palestinian and Israeli officials have condemned violence by settlers since tensions rose on Thursday in the occupied territory after Israel’s eviction of settler families from a disputed Hebron building.
Nidal Awawi told Reuters a room he had built on his roof was blackened and destroyed by a fire set off before dawn. There were no casualties, he said.
A spokesman for Palestinian police, Ramadan Awad, blamed the arson on Jewish settlers he said were spotted fleeing the scene as flames engulfed the building. Awawi’s house is surrounded on three sides by settler homes.
Awad demanded Israel “put an end to their (settlers’) aggression and carry out its responsibilities to restore calm.”
An Israeli army spokeswoman said they had not received any report about the fire.
The Palestinian news agency Maan said settlers also blocked roads elsewhere in the West Bank, near the Jewish enclave of Yitzhar, a site of previous settler protests this week.
The U.N. Middle East envoy, Robert Serry, demanded in a statement on Friday that Israel put “an immediate end to the settler attacks” after settlers shot and wounded three Palestinians in a rampage the day beforehand in Hebron.
Israel said on Friday it had beefed up forces in the West Bank, a territory it captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, to prevent further violence.
Hebron has long been a focus of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some 650 Jewish settlers live in fortified Hebron enclaves guarded by Israeli troops in the city of 180,000 Palestinians.
Palestinians and Western countries see the dozens of Jewish settlements Israel has built in the West Bank as a key obstacle to peace efforts. The World Court has said the settlements are illegal, a decision disputed by Israel.
The latest tensions in Hebron flared after settlers defied a November 16 Israeli court order to vacate a house they said they had bought from a Palestinian man who denied ever selling it.
Israel sent in club-wielding troops to remove a dozen settler families from the building on Thursday, after days of stone-throwing protests there between Palestinians and settlers.