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Settlers Rampage in WB, Savage Palestinians


June 2, 2009

NABLUS — Jewish settlers rampaged in the occupied West Bank on Monday, June 1, blocking roads, burning farming fields, cutting down olive trees and shooting Palestinian civilians.

"They attacked when the minibus (carrying 17 Palestinian workers on their way to work in Israel) stopped," Zakaria Sada, an activist with the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Masked settlers blocked a road in western Nablus, hurling rocks at Palestinian drivers, who stopped their vehicles to move the obstructions.

"The man next to the driver was seriously wounded," said Sada.

Setters also badly beat a Palestinian driver when he stopped his vehicle to move the stones on the road.

Four people were wounded in the attacks, and one remained in serious condition in hospital with a fractured skull, medics said.

Groups of settlers converged on the area overnight after rumors spread that Israeli security forces were moving in to evacuate settlement outposts.

To head off mounting US pressures, the Israeli government has promised to dismantle several dozen wildcat outposts -- settlements erected in the West Bank without government approval.

"Our intention is to dismantle the unlawful outposts," Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee on Monday.

He, however, remained defiant to calls to freeze settlement activities, vowing to continue construction in other settlements.

"There are reasonable demands and there are unreasonable demands. The fate of the settlements will be determined in a final status agreement."

In the past few weeks, Israeli police have taken down some tents and tin huts in the occupied West Bank, though the structures usually reappear within hours after troops leave.

On Monday, police and army removed several shacks containing farming equipment outside the settlement of Elon Moreh northeast of Nablus. New shacks arose on the site within a few hours, local settlers said.

Burnt Fields

Settlers also set fire to Palestinian fields, sawed down olive trees and threw rocks at Palestinians outside the villages of Burin and Far'ata south of Nablus.

"It took us six months to plant everything, this is our whole life," Shaher Tawil said, as his fields of wheat and olive trees burned on the outskirts of Far-ata.

Near the settlement of Yizhar -- one of the most radical in the West Bank -- heavy smoke billowed into the air as settlers set fire to Palestinian fields.

Nearly 20 settlers also opened fire at Palestinian villagers and journalists when a group of Palestinians tried to chase settlers off their land.

Despite the settler violence, three army patrol vehicles at a nearby junction stood by without intervention.

"These sorts of rock hurling incidents are unfortunately very common in the West Bank," one army spokesman said.

Hardline settlers believe the Jewish people have a God-given, biblical-era right to live on the land, though most of the more than 280,000 Israelis who live in the settlements dotting the West Bank are there for economic reasons.

More than 164 Jewish-only settlements have been built in the occupied West Bank since 1967, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied Palestinian territory.

The international community considers all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.

:: Article nr. 54830 sent on 04-jun-2009 04:25 ECT


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