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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Settlers suspected of well attack
Settler protest
Israeli forces have their work cut out with settlers around Hebron
Israeli police suspect Jewish settlers of poisoning the only water source in a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

Residents of Tatwana near Hebron found rotting chicken carcases in their well after four Jewish settlers were seen in the village early on Tuesday morning.

Israeli police said they suspected militant Jews from a nearby wildcat settlement outpost called Havat Maon.

"No-one has water," said village elder Saber Ehrany, who accused settlers of trying to drive the villagers out.

But settlers denied being responsible and blamed the contamination on an "internal tribal fight between the Palestinians".

"We are opposed in principle to any kind of violence and to poisoning wells," said their spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef.

Settlers have returned several times to the Havat Maon site after Israeli soldiers expelled them.

Mr Ehrany said it was common for the settlers to harass and intimidate the residents of Tatwana.

"They always do these things to us. They are trying to push us to leave the village," he said.

Police spokesman Doron Ben-Amo said it was "unlikely" that the Palestinians would contaminate their own well.

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