Palestinian cave-dwellers fear settler raids

Barakat Mour was born in this cave near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, and still calls it home, but the Palestinian says it's under increasing threat from Israeli settlers.

Israel's military said in recent weeks there've been several reports of friction between settlers and Palestinian cave-dwellers in the area.

Mour says just days ago, a group broke in and caused damage.

"The settlers have no limits. You'll be sitting with your wife in the cave and the settlers will raid it without any notice. They raid and break things. Four days ago, around 70 settlers raided the cave at once and we had to leave. We were five men and the women were in the other area. We had to go because if we so much as laid a finger on one of them, it could be seen as a threat and we'd be off to jail."

The area is dotted with natural caves, and Palestinians have lived in many of them since the early 19th century at least, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Israeli and Palestinian activists have staged several demonstrations in the past few weeks to defend their right to stay there.

"Occupation, no more," they chanted, before Israeli troops dispersed them with stun grenades

This activist says the family has faced many attacks from settlers who are trying to drive them out.

Mour insists his family are staying put.

"A homeland is very dear, and my land is dear to me. It is part of me. I have 12 brothers. My father has a family of around 450 members, and this land is ours."

Some 440,000 settlers live among more than 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Most countries view Israeli settlements, built on land seized by Israel in the 1967 war, as illegal under international law. Israel disputes that, citing Biblical, historical, and political links to the land.