Israeli forces Monday demolished a house and a restaurant in Beit Jala city, located to the west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to sources.
Hasan Breijeh, a local anti-settlement and wall activist, told that a bulldozer arrived in Wadi al-Makhrour, a valley that stretches between Battir village and Beit Jala city, protected by Israeli soldiers.
Israeli soldiers sealed off the area and surrounded the house and restaurant before the heavy machinery demolished them purportedly for lacking rarely-granted Israeli building permits.
The property was owned by Ramzi Qaisyeh, whose restaurant had been demolished twice, including once in May 2012.
Wadi al-Makhrour is a popular hiking spot for Palestinians. It is best enjoyed during the late afternoon in the summer when the sun is about to set.
According to the online portal for Palestinian tourism, www.visitpalestine.ps, the area encompasses both natural and agricultural landscapes and is well known for its ancient terraces and stone towers called qusur, built of neatly placed rocks that used to serve as storage rooms for various crops planted in the wadi.
The area is famous for its hills replete with agricultural terraces full of olive, apricot, and fig trees. The abundance of the place is owed to the underground natural springs and also to the hard work of the landowners. Some parts of the valley are home to natural forests with remarkable tree species such as Palestine oak (Quercus calliprinos).
Israeli forces have been targeting Wadi al-Makhrour seeking to forcefully displace the indigenous Palestinian residents from their land for Jewish-only settlement expansion.
The largely Christian city of Beit Jala is flanked by Gilo and Har Gilo settlements to the north and northwest.