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Israeli forces turn Palestinian house into military post

Oct. 25, 2008 10:37 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 25, 2008 10:37 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - A Palestinian man, 47-year-old Bassam Za'ul from the southern West Bank village of Husan was awoken at 3:30 am on Saturday when more than a dozen Israeli military vehicles stormed his house.

Za'ul says soldiers then told him and his family to leave within five minutes; they told him that "the home is now under army control."

Za'ul told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers treated his family harshly and beat his sons, 22-year-old Basil and 21-year-old Ahmad when they refused to leave the house. "We were forced to leave at gunpoint," he said.

"My family consists of eight, including a 4-month-old baby girl, and all of the sudden we found ourselves in the street, shivering," Za'ul said.

Neighbors told Ma'an via telephone that Israeli soldiers had turned the house into a military base and watchtower. They erected a fence around the house and raised Israeli flags on the roof. Soldiers removed windows and replaced them with sandbags.

The apartment is at the third floor of a three-storey building. Za'ul's brother lives in the ground floor, and the soldiers restricted his movement.

Za'ul insisted that he was not given a warrant before the evacuation was ordered, although his apartment had been ransacked five times over the past week, the last of which was on Friday evening when Israeli infantry troops filmed the house inside and out.

The house is strategically located on a bypass road, leading to an illegal Israeli settlement, Betar Ellite. Located near Abu Bakr As-Siddiq Mosque, Israeli forces long ago erected a security fence to protect Israeli vehicles from stones tossed by Palestinian youth.

Za'ul emphatically denied that youth had ever thrown stones from his own house, though.
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