Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Sunday, 23 March 2008

The curse of the Nablus dream house

By Aleem Maqbool
BBC News, Nablus

Six years ago, Abdul-Latif Nasif and his two brothers built their family home on one of the hills over-looking the West Bank city of Nablus.

Abdul-Latif Nasif's house
The house has a commanding view over Nablus...
It has spectacular views over the city and surrounding area - but that has been its curse.

"This just isn't my home any more," says the 47-year-old Palestinian bank manager, "it might as well belong to the Israeli army."

Less than a month after it was finished, Mr Nasif says Israeli troops banged on the door and came in with dogs and guns, telling all his family to gather in one room.

He says they took control of the upper storeys of the house and used it as a base and observation post as the army invaded Nablus.

"They stuck maps on the wall in my living room and brought computers to make the room like a control room." They stayed for over a month.

Mr Nasif says there was huge relief in his family when the army finally left, but the joy was short-lived.

Magazine spread

Over the last six years, the Israeli army has made frequent incursions into the city, to arrest and kill militants. When it does, the soldiers often return to bang on Mr Nasif's door.

Israeli troops inside Abdul-Latif Nasif as pictured in magazine
... which makes it a favoured lookout for Israeli soldiers
"They come any time they want, in the morning, or in the middle of the night. It scares us." says Mr Nasif. "Sometimes they stay for a night, sometimes for weeks."

"They use anything they want. They have used my bed, my children's beds, the bathrooms, the gas, electricity - everything."

On one occasion, the soldiers took photographs of themselves camped in Mr Nasif's living room and sent the pictures to an Israeli magazine. When they next raided Nablus, they gave Mr Nasif a copy of the magazine.

In total, 22 members of Mr Nasif's family live in the house. They include his five children and 73-year-old mother.

"I don't know what to do, or who to speak to, or where to take my family. Me and my brothers spent all our money building this house, but we are not safe."

Militant history

Mr Nasif says his youngest son, Yusuf, was just 15 days old when the army first came to the house.

"Yusuf is six years old now, and all through his life this has been happening. They were here again just two days ago."

Abdul-Latif Nasif and his son
Mr Nasif says the Israeli soldiers sleep on his children's' beds
Nablus does have a history of militancy. In the past, perpetrators of bombings in which Israeli civilians were killed, came from the city.

Although those attacks have dramatically decreased in number over recent years, the army says that does not mean attacks are not still being planned. That is why it says it needs to keep on making its raids into Nablus.

But Mr Nasif is upset that he and his family have to suffer.

"When I ask the soldiers to leave us alone, they say I should tell people to stop planning bombings in Israel, but I say it's nothing to do with me. I have done nothing wrong to the state of Israel. We don't deserve this," he says.

Mr Nasif says he has written letters of complaint to the offices of Israeli politicians, but never had a reply.

Interior of Abdul-Latif Nasif's house
Mr Nasif says the Israeli soldiers arrive without warning
He said he also sent a letter to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat asking him to help and complaining to him of the damage the soldiers had caused to his house. Mr Arafat sent him a cheque for $150 (75) to make repairs.

As to its use of Mr Nasif's house in incursions, the Israeli army says it cannot comment on its operations.

The peace process was re-launched in November, but Mr Nasif says he has not noticed any difference in the frequency of the army raids on Nablus.

He says he still fears the arrival of Israeli troops at any time.

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