Last update - 23:40 25/07/2007
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent
Police arrested 13 youths during clashes between right-wing activists and security forces on Wednesday, after hundreds of settlers and activists attempted to build an outpost next to the West Bank settlement of Efrat.
The clashes come just two days after hundreds of settlers were forcibly removed from the evacuated West Bank settlement of Homesh.
The activists set out on Wednesday afternoon to march northwest from the Givat Hazait neighborhood of Efrat to Eitam Hill, about three kilometers away. Clashes began as dozens of Border Police officers confronted them on the way to the hill, in an attempt to stop them from marching.
Most of the rightists managed to bypass the gate and several barriers put in place by Israel Defense Forces, but were stopped just short of the summit they were attempting to reach. Arrests included Rabbi Moshe Levinger, from the particularly ideological Jewish community in Hebron.
Police came prepared with reinforcements in order to prevent the march. Much of the force involved in the clashes at Homesh were moved to Gush Etzion - the bloc of settlements, of which Efrat is the largest - where they were joined by officers from the Judea and Samaria police. The Israel Defense Forces also deployed a battalion stationed in the area.
Right-wing activists and settlers had previously announced their intention to form a new outpost Wednesday in the West Bank, with the support of at least nine right-wing action groups.
The area for the new settlement is adjacent to Efrat, a prominent and veteran settlement, which is located south of Jerusalem between Bethlehem and Hebron.
The right-wing activists are seeking to build the new settlement on Eitam Hill, which belongs to Efrat's municipal territory. The Housing Ministry had previously planned to build 2,500 housing units on Eitam Hill. However, the separation fence cut Eitam Hill off from Efrat proper, which is home to some 7,500 residents.
"The new settlement of Eitam is the first step of a five-stage plan to lift the chokehold that the cabinet has imposed on the settlement in Judea and Samaria," the organizers of the event said.
Additionally, settlers of the evacuated settlement of Nisanit in the Gaza Strip said they intended to return there Thursday. Security forces are preparing to block the attempt.
Former Gaza settlers mark two years since disengagement
Settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank in the summer of 2005 marked on Wednesday two years since the disengagement, or in their words, "the destruction of Gush Katif and northern Samaria."
Events were held at four different locations in the south of Israel - Kibbutz Kissufim, the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, Netivot and Sderot. Their common slogan was "connecting with the residents of the south."
The theme of the entire day was "He who remembers the past will build the future."