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    03-Jan-2019

Police Clash with Israeli Far-Right in West Bank

 

AFP

 

Israeli far-right activists clashed with police Thursday as authorities moved in to clear away two mobile homes illegally set up in the occupied West Bank.
 
Some 300 protesters threw metal bars, stones and oil at Israeli police, while officers responded with tear gas as the operation began around 5:00 am (0300 GMT) at the former wildcat settlement of Amona, police said.
 
The windswept site -- on a hilltop near Ramallah -- was cleared of protesters by around 9:00 am and workers with large flatbed trucks were preparing to take away the two mobile homes put there in recent weeks.
 
Settlers packed furniture and supplies into a van and drove away, while mattresses, a refrigerator, chairs and other items remained scattered in the area.
 
Police said 23 officers were lightly wounded, while seven arrests had been made.
 
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said they were enforcing a court order declaring the structures there illegal.
 
After the confrontation, groups of young far-right activists, some with their faces covered, could be seen gathered in the nearby Israeli settlement of Ofra.
 
"When the policemen arrived, they tried to break in (to the mobile homes) but failed, so they started firing tear gas inside," said Oren Amitai.
 
"People were coughing and coughing non-stop," said the 43-year-old, who used to be a resident of the Amona wildcat settlement.
 
The clash comes nearly two years after Amona was demolished by Israeli authorities following a supreme court ruling that found it to be built illegally on private Palestinian land.
 
The demolition at the site where around 40 families lived was highly controversial among Israelis and similarly led to clashes.
 
Israel later began work on the first new government-sanctioned Jewish settlement since 1991 -- called Amichai -- as a new home for those who had lived in Amona.
 
Far-right activists advocate Israel annexing much of the West Bank and oppose a Palestinian state. Key members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition also oppose a Palestinian state.
 
Settlements are seen as illegal under international law and a major stumbling block to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians want as part of their future state.
 
Settlement construction however also plays an important role in Israeli right-wing politics and Netanyahu frequently expresses his support for settlers.
 
Israeli general elections are scheduled for April 9.
 
 

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