The Palestinian Authority's official news agency Wafa says Israel is using rats to drive Arab families out of their homes in the Old City of Jerusalem.
In the past the news agency, which is controlled and funded by PA President Mahmoud Abbas's office, has accused Israel of using wild pigs to drive Palestinians out of their homes and fields in the West Bank. In the reports, Palestinians were quoted by the agency as saying that they had seen Israelis release herds of wild pigs, which later attacked them.
But this is the first time that Palestinians have spoken of rats being used against them.
"Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem," Wafa reported under the title, "Settlers flood the Old City of Jerusalem with rats." The report continued: "Over the past two months, dozens of settlers come to the alleyways and streets of the Old City carrying iron cages full of rats. They release the rats, which find shelter in open sewage systems."
Wafa quoted unnamed Arab residents as saying that they had tried to eliminate the rats with various poisons, but to no avail.
Israel's goal was to "increase the suffering of the [Arabs] in Jerusalem by turning their lives into a real tragedy and forcing them to evict their homes and leave the city," Hasan Khater, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Front in Jerusalem, was quoted as saying.
Jerusalem Municipality spokesman Gidi Schmerling said that the report was "pure fiction," and had no connection to reality.
Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report