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The army has been using the roof of a Palestinian home in Hebron and has commandeered the entire top floor of the building without authorization from the military commander for the past five years, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has charged in a letter to head of Central Command Maj.-Gen. Ya'ir Naveh and West Bank legal adviser Col. Ya'ir Lotstein.
The four-story building is owned by a doctor, Taisir Zahada, and houses three families and Zahada's clinic.
According to ACRI, the army seized parts of the building as early as 1998 and established a lookout point on the roof. At one point in 2004, it allegedly took over the entire structure and ordered all its 17 occupants to leave.
Currently, it uses the lookout on the weekends and Jewish holidays but has allegedly declared the roof and the floor beneath if off-limits to the family at all times.
ACRI attorney Limor Yehuda added that access to the roof is only from a staircase inside the building. Therefore, soldiers and border policemen enter the homes of the Palestinian families whenever they want.
"On many occasions," she wrote, "the intrusion has included harassment, intimidation and injury to the dignity of the occupants by soldiers and border policemen. Sometimes, they also damage furniture and the ones stationed on the roof often soil it by relieving themselves and leaving behind food remains."
Yehuda charged that in seizing Zahada's building, the army was violating international law.
For one thing, it was acting without a valid order from the military commander. For another, the army may only seize private property for exceptional reasons. Furthermore, by turning the building into a military outpost, the army has endangered the lives of the civilians occupying it.