Illegal Rahat mosque: Clashes as Israelis raze building

image captionThe mosque was built without a permit

Police and residents clashed in the southern Israeli city of Rahat as an illegally built mosque was demolished.

Protesting residents said the police used rubber bullets and tear gas against them, while the police accused locals of throwing stones at them.

Thousands of police were reportedly deployed in the operation in the Bedouin city in the Negev desert.

Police said a local court had ordered the mosque's razing as it was built without a permit.

Yusuf Abu Jamer, a spokesman for the local branch of the Islamic Movement, said residents had built the structure illegally because the Israeli authorities would take too long to grant approval.

He described the pre-dawn raid: "They went into the mosque and arrested those who were praying inside, including me, and drove us outside the city until the operation was over."