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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 10:37 GMT
Settlers clash with Israel troops
Israeli settlers clash with police at Amona settlement
Levels of violence are similar to the worst of the Gaza evacuation
Israeli troops have clashed with crowds of demonstrators resisting the evacuation of a Jewish settler outpost near Ramallah in the West Bank.

Settlers barricaded in nine permanent buildings due for demolition pelted police with stones. Dozens of police and protesters have been injured.

The evacuation of Amona outpost comes at the end of a long legal battle.

The international roadmap peace plan demands Israel uproot all unauthorised outposts built since March 2001.

The international community considers all settlements in the occupied territories - Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem - as illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

They are treating people here like Arabs
Arieh Eldad, MP
Outposts such as Amona were built without authorisation from the Israeli government.

The Amona outpost was built in 1996 on private Palestinian land on a hilltop north of Ramallah. About 30 families live in caravans on the site.

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz promised to demolish the nine newly built homes there by the end of January following a ruling by the High Court in November.

The settlers claim they had permission from the authorities to build the homes.

Protest

Correspondents say Wednesday's clashes were on par with the most violent scenes of resistance to the dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip last August.

Map showing Amona

Police said 31 of their officers had been hurt. Israeli media reports spoke of two officers seriously wounded.

Before the confrontation, the Israeli police commander in the West Bank warned the demonstrators not to provoke his troops.

"I hope they do not force us to use the means at our disposal," Israel Yitzhak said.

"I hope they will allow us to act. If they resist, we will use force."

But, as bulldozers moved towards the outpost, protestors linked arms around the buildings due to be demolished and pelted the troops with stones, paint-filled balloons and eggs.

When the settlers resisted the eviction, troops wielding sticks charged the crowds and scuffles broke out.

After an hour, the soldiers began to tear down shutters over the windows of the homes and dragged protestors out.

Immediately after each building was evacuated, mechanical diggers moved in and started to pull down the structures.

Two right-wing MPs who joined the protest were among the injured.

"They are treating people here like Arabs," Arieh Eldad of the National Union Party told Israel Radio.

Mr Eldad said his arm had been broken.




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