Israeli Settlers Vandalise Army Base, Clash With Troops In West Bank

Jewish settlers vandalise Israeli army base in protest over planned evacuations of unauthorised settlement outposts

Jewish protesters gain access to Qasar al-Yahud baptism site.

Israeli settlers clash with troops in West Bank (Guardian, Dec. 13, 2011):

Israeli settlers have clashed with troops at an army base in the West Bank and along the border with Jordan in a sign of growing animosity between extremist settlers and the soldiers guarding them.

Some 50 activists broke into an army base in the West Bank on Tuesday morning and lit fires, damaged vehicles with paint and nails, and threw stones at the district commander, the Israeli military said. The officer was not hurt.

Troops dispersed the rioters and arrested two people, a police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said.

The military called on settler leaders and rabbis to condemn the incident, which kept the army from “focusing solely on its primary mission – protecting the state of Israel and its residents”.

The Ynet Israeli news site said the settlers were demonstrating against the planned evacuations of unauthorised settlement outposts. In recent years, Israeli settlers have attacked military or Palestinian property to protest against Israeli government policy, a tactic they call “price tag”.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, a separate group of settlers entered a closed military zone along West Bank’s border with Jordan late on Monday and occupied an abandoned structure near a Christian baptism site on the Jordan river. Israeli security forces removed them, and police said all 17 people involved had been detained. Jordanian officials said the Israelis did not cross the border.

The activists are thought to have been protesting against Jordan’s attempt to prevent Israelis renovating a pedestrian walkway in Jerusalem’s Old City. The passage, which leads to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has been declared unsafe by the area’s officials and was closed on Sunday. It is the only access point for Jews, meaning that they cannot access the compound revered as the site of two biblical temples.

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