In a landmark ruling, a Palestinian mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem was demolished on Wednesday by Israel, in the latest in a series of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian religious buildings in the West Bank.
The Israeli military said it would replace the mosque’s facade with concrete panels, with the demolition of the mosque scheduled for Friday.
A military court in the city ruled that the mosque had been demolished illegally and that the demolition could not take place.
It also ordered the mosque to be destroyed.
The mosque is located in the al-Qalandiya neighborhood, which has been the scene of frequent clashes between Israel and Palestinians in recent months.
The city has also been hit by a wave of deadly attacks by Palestinian militants and their supporters, including some in recent weeks.
Palestinians have called for the demolition and the removal of the Palestinian flag from the mosque.
The ruling comes amid an escalation of violence in the area.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed at least eight Palestinians in a stabbing attack on a bus near the al -Qalandsiya neighborhood in Bethlehem, near the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City.
Two other Palestinians were wounded.
Two others were killed and two wounded by Israeli forces in clashes with Palestinian protesters in the vicinity of the al-‘Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on Tuesday.
In a separate incident, Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian, identified as Abdallah Khaled, in a protest in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Palestinian Medical Society reported.
Khaled was reportedly stabbed in the head.
On Monday, Israeli security forces fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who had gathered near the Muslim Waqf mosque in Bethlehem’s Old Town to protest the demolition.
The incident was the third time in a week that protesters have been injured or killed by Israeli security force.
Israel has also demolished dozens of other Palestinian buildings in recent years in order to make way for Jewish settlements.