Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Police and settlers clash on two fronts

Jul. 25, 2007 19:37 | Updated Jul. 25, 2007 21:10

Security forces clashed with right-wing activists on two fronts on Wednesday as settlers attempted to build a community near Efrat and return to the former Samaria settlement of Homesh.

Police fought with settlers on Eitam Hill, near Efrat, over their wishes to go through with plans to build a neighborhood at the site. According to reports, six activists were arrested.

The organizers of the march, who were planning to lay down foundations on the hill, were reporting excessive police violence against protestors, including women and children.

Meanwhile, forces evacuated former settlers in Homesh, who claimed police had violently dragged them from the site and destroyed a tent and make-shift kitchen erected there.

Security officials were forced to remove settlers for a second time this week after a similar attempt to rebuild the community was made on Monday.

Earlier Wednesday, military and police forces set up temporary roadblocks in Gush Etzion in an effort to prevent dozens of activists from reaching Eitam.

The hill is part of the original government-sanctioned plan for the town and the land is Jewish-owned. A number of years ago, the Housing and Construction Ministry passed an initial approval for the building of 2,500 units on the hill.

However, during his tenure as defense minister, Shaul Mofaz decided that the security fence would not include the planned neighborhood, a move that prompted Efrat residents to take action before the fence's completion.

As well as attempting to stop the settlers from reaching the area, security forces held up a group of Peace Now activists who were trying to enter Efrat through its northern access.
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