- - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ISRAEL

Israel rejects challenge to West Bank barrier path

JERUSALEM — The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a Palestinian village’s appeal to reroute a section of Israel’s West Bank barrier straddling the Jerusalem municipal border, saying the petitioners didn’t prove the barrier would smother the village.

Residents of Walajeh village had claimed the path of the section under construction would cut them off from their farmlands, cemetery and water source. Israel says the barrier, which at multiple points dips inside the West Bank, is crucial to keep out Palestinian attackers.

Walajeh, a community of 2,000 on Jerusalem’s southwest edge, is almost entirely surrounded by Jewish settlements.

The planned barrier would completely encircle the village with a fence, cutting it off from most of its open land, according to an Israeli Defense Ministry map.

Locals have demonstrated against the barrier’s construction for five years, in at least one instance lying down in front of bulldozers.

But Chief Justice Dorit Beinish ruled Monday that the barrier saves Israeli lives because it “blocks terrorists from entering Jerusalem.”

SYRIA

Troops kill 7 after U.N. team visit

BEIRUT — Syrian security forces killed at least seven people in the restive central city of Homs soon after a U.N. humanitarian assessment team left the area because the security situation was deteriorating, activists said Tuesday.

Monday’s bloodshed came as the overall death toll from President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on the five-month-old uprising in Syria reached 2,200, the United Nations said.

The U.N.’s top human rights body voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to demand that Syria end its crackdown and cooperate with an international probe into possible crimes against humanity.

The U.N. assessment team had been advised to leave Homs for security reasons when “a protest situation developed,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday in New York.

“The mission did not come under fire,” he said.

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