Bethlehem monastery loses court battle on security fence

By REUTERS
April 26, 2013 17:57

 
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A Catholic monastery and convent in a secluded valley outside Bethlehem lost a seven-year legal battle against the building of Israel's security fence on its land on Friday, according to its lawyers.

The Society of St. Yves, a Catholic human rights group which argued the case on the monastery's behalf, said an Israeli appeals court had endorsed a plan to expand the barrier it had built in the area.

The wall would surround the convent on three sides and cut it off from most of its land, St. Yves said in a statement.

Salesian monks and nuns tend lush vineyards and olive trees on terraced hillsides under the gaze of Israeli settlements there. A convent school teaches 400 local children.

Israel started building the barrier, a mix of metal fencing, barbed wire and concrete walls, in 2002 in response to a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings. It says the barrier keeps its citizens safe from terrorists.

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