Israeli Family 'Breaks Into' Jerusalem Home Centered in Ownership Controversy

The group of Jews have documents proving they purchased the building and were the rightful owners, but Palestinians claim it is their own.

A group of Israelis on Thursday broke into a building in Jerusalem's Old City to which they have documents proving their ownership, but a Palestinian family claims as its own.

The Israelis broke down the doors of the two-floor, 11-room building while most of the family was not there. Only one Palestinian had stayed behind and fought attempts to evict him, the Israelis said.

They claim they had purchased the building from someone who lived in it.

The building is situated in the Muslim quarter of the Old City, about 300 meters from the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary plateau, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites.

It is also the most sacred site in Judaism as it contains the ruins of the Jewish Biblical Temple.

Palestinian neighbors said the Qirrish family owned the building and had for 15 years been embroiled in a court battle against settlers' attempts to take it over.

The family said Jerusalem's district court had ruled in its favor and therefore expressed surprise at the settlers' takeover of the building, allegedly under police protection and without a court order.

A police spokesman told the German Press Agency dpa that the group of Jews who took over the building had presented documents to the police, which he said indicated they had purchased the building and were the rightful owners.

The police had taken the documents and were checking their authenticity, he continued.

Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. Before that, Jews had no access to the Old City, located entirely in East Jerusalem, or any of its holy sites.

Ultra-nationalist Jewish organizations have for years been trying to purchase buildings in the Muslim quarter of the Old City and elsewhere in East Jerusalem.

Around 3,500 settlers live in some 75 "outposts" in the Muslim quarter under special security measures.

Settlers evict Palestinians from their home in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, December 1, 2009