Middle East

Israel razes West Bank 'mosque'

A group of Palestinian men pray on the ruins of a mosque in Khirbet Yarza
Image caption The residents of Khirbet Yarza say the mosque was built before the Israeli occupation of 1967

The Israeli army has demolished a number of buildings in West Bank, including one that Palestinians said was a long-established mosque.

Israeli officials said the structures were temporary and built without permits in a military fire zone.

Palestinian villagers said the mosque was built before 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank.

The UN has criticised Israel for demolishing Palestinian property and prohibiting construction in the zone.

"This morning, The Civil Administration demolished eight temporary structures and a building construction that were built without the required permits in a fire area, risking the lives of the population," said a statement from the Israeli ministry of defence.

An Israeli spokesman said none of the buildings was a mosque.

Construction and planning issues come under the jurisdiction of the Civil Administration in Area C, the part of the West Bank designated a military fire zone by Israel.

The statement said the Palestinians had been notified of the demolition order and been given a chance to appeal against it.

A spokesman for the residents of the village, Khirbet Yarza, said the villagers had papers proving the mosque was legal and built before 1967, reported the West Bank-based Ma'an news agency.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

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