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Witnesses: Settlers vandalize Hebron community center

Feb. 11, 2013 9:44 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2013 4:39 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- A group of Israeli settlers on Sunday evening vandalized a Palestinian community center in Hebron, witnesses said.

The assailants uprooted trees and flowers from the backyard of the Challenge and Steadfastness Center, which is run by a local group known as Youth Against Settlements.

On Saturday, another group led by Baruch Marzel, the leader of the far-right Jewish National Front party, came to the center.

The activists tried to protect the center from the settlers, and the Youth Against Settlements coordinator Jawad Abu Eisha was detained by Israeli forces.

The uptick in confrontations around the center comes as the Hebron group prepares to launch its fourth campaign to demand that Israeli authorities reopen Shuhada Street in the center of the Old City of Hebron.

A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control.

The Israeli military-controlled H2 zone includes the ancient Old City, home of the revered Ibrahimi Mosque -- also split into a synagogue referred to as the Tomb of the Patriarchs -- and the once thriving Shuhada street, now just shuttered shops fronts and closed homes.

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