JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli police and soldiers evacuated a disputed building in Hebron.
Some 600 security forces on Thursday afternoon began evacuating the Peace House, also called the House of Contention, in Hebron. In addition to the residents of the building, up to 250 protesters clashed with the forces. The clashes continued late Thursday afternoon in front of the building. Forces welded shut the door of the building to prevent settlers from reentering.
At least 20 settlers were injured during the evacuation, according to Israel’s Channel 1. A young woman was carried away on a stretcher. An Israeli soldier was injured when a protester poured acid in his eye. Two Palestinians were injured when a settler shot into a crowd during the evacuation.
Protesters also clashed with police at the entrance to Jerusalem, where they blocked the roads to protest the evacuation.
The evacuation followed a meeting Thursday morning between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and leaders of the settlers’ Yesha Council to discuss ways to calm the situation in Hebron and to peacefully evacuate the house, which the Hebron community claims it purchased from a Palestinian man through a middleman. The claim is disputed by the Palestinian who says he owns the building.
"Citizens must accept the state’s authority," Barak said following the meeting. "We will not allow extreme elements to undermine the authority of the state and its foundation."
Up to 20 Jewish families have been living in the four-story building located between the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs for more than a year. Israel’s High Court of Justice on Nov. 16 upheld the government’s request to evict the residents pending a court decision on ownership claims.
Dozens of young protesters have descended on Hebron since the ruling, and on a number of occasions have rioted, throwing rocks at Palestinian homes, smashing cars, and vandalizing a mosque and Palestinian cemetery.