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Jerusalem Orders the Destruction of Booths on Land Zoned for Arabs

A week after the conclusion of the festival of Sukkot, municipal officials here have ordered the demolition of a group of wooden booths erected for the weeklong holiday.

The booths, or sukkot, at issue stand adjacent to a yeshiva on the Mount of Olives, on land zoned for an Arab school.

Jewish settlement leaders are turning the booths into permanent homes in what they say is a first step in the establishment of a 200-family Jewish enclave in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood.

They warned this week that there would be bloodshed if bulldozers arrived to carry out the city’s order.

“We are prepared to call in the troops if need be,” said Rabbi Binyamin Elon, the head of the Beit Orot yeshiva, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Thousands gathered at the yeshiva earlier this week to show solidarity for the settlers. “We are here to say this is part of Israel,” said the yeshiva spokesman.

Mayor Teddy Kollek said that he was adhering to a strict enforcement of zoning codes and that the settlers knew the land was zoned for an Arab school for area residents when they bought it.

The city delivered a demolition order Wednesday to the yeshiva, warning it had 24 hours to dismantle the booths.

On Thursday, municipal officials pledged that the structures would be demolished but refused to commit themselves to a timetable.

Deputy Mayor Ornan Yekutieli, meanwhile, accused the settlement leaders of incitement.

For their part, supporters of the yeshiva accused Kollek of issuing the order in a bid for Arab votes in the upcoming municipal election.

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