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Olmert condemns settler 'pogrom'

Palestinian boys look at burnt-out Palestinian car
Cars and homes were burnt as settlers rampaged after the eviction

Outgoing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has compared the violence used by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in Hebron to bygone anti-Semitism in Europe.

He told Cabinet he was ashamed by recent scenes in the West Bank city, which he said amounted to a pogrom.

The settlers shot and wounded three Palestinians and set fire to property after Israeli security forces evicted a Jewish group from a disputed building.

Correspondents say Mr Olmert's use of "pogrom" has particular resonance.

It is usually associated with the anti-Semitic violence Jewish people experienced in Europe and Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries.

"As a Jew, I was ashamed at the scenes of Jews opening fire at innocent Arabs in Hebron. There is no other definition than the term 'pogrom' to describe what I have seen," he told Cabinet members, according to public radio.

"We are the sons of a nation who know what is meant by a pogrom, and I am using the word only after deep reflection."

Video from an Israeli human rights group showed two settlers shooting Palestinian rock-throwers on Thursday.

About 600 Jewish settlers live in the city, with several thousand more in surrounding settlements.

It is not the first time Mr Olmert has used the word to condemn Jewish settlers - in October he described a rampage through a Palestinian village in the West Bank as a pogrom.

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